You'll find hundreds of files on cleft lip, cleft palate here on

This one is about: For Teeth That are a Knock-Out

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     What to Do When Dental Trauma Strikes

by Joanne Green and John R Liu, DDS

A friend whose child was born with a several bilateral cleft tells how her athletic and sports-minded son often finds himself rushing to the emergency room. And the first question Mom asks, after the obvious "Is he okay?" is invertibly, "Did he hurt his mouth?"

How well we can all relate to that! Our children sport their multi-thousand-dollar faces and we'd like to keep those faces intact! After multiple surgeries and massive orthodontia, we'd almost deal with ANY other part of the body than the face. And still, it is not uncommon that the bloodiest part of the mishap seems to be the face. When we see that, we often think, dental trauma. He's hurt his teeth!

A toddler may bump out a baby tooth way too early. A preteen may try to catch a baseball in his teeth. Your daughter fell off her bike and onto her face. Your son tried a skateboard trick he hasn't exactly mastered. The end result of all that - blood from the portal we least want to watch - your child is bleeding from the mouth. He's injured that precious face. What's a parent to do then?

Dr John R Liu, DDS, the Dental Chief of Odessa Brown Children's Clinic of Seattle Washington and the Dental consultant for WIDE SMILES, offered the following:

Dental trauma happens for reasons that may be unique to every age. It is, in fact, a frequently-seen problem. To ensure a successful resolution after such an injury, you must remember a few good principles.

1. Stay calm. Often injuries to the mouth result in a lot of bleeding which, to you as a concerned parent, can be very unnerving. ( Editor's note: Remember that when a child bleeds from the mouth, the blood often mixes with large quantities of saliva and looks like a lot more blood than it really is.) It is important that you stay calm and reassure your child.

2. Determine the extent of the injury to the rest of your child's body. If there are other injuries which are more severe, or if there has been a loss of consciousness by the child, seek emergency medical attention first. After it has been determined that your child is medically fine, seek dental care immediately. Don't wait for the physician to mention the need for dental care.

3. Check your child's mouth to determine the extent of the facial injury. If a tooth is missing, look for it in the area where the injury occurred. If you find it, or pieces of it, place it in a cup of milk. Don't try to rinse or scrub the tooth if it is dirty.

4. Call your child's dentist immediately.

5. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" - this is very true in this case. Look for ways to prevent your child from dental injuries. If you have a child who is just learning to walk, remove obstacles such as coffee tables. Make sure that sharp corners and edges of playpens and strollers are padded. Don't leave sharp objects around that toddlers can stick in their mouths.

If your older children are participating in sports, make sure their protective gear includes a mouth guard, especially if it is a contact sport.

Make sure that your child's dentist has 24-hour emergency coverage. Also, make sure that any people involved in the care of your child (ie, babysitter, day care center, school nurse, grandparent, etc) has your child's dentist's name and phone number so that they can reach him or her if they cannot reach you.

When dental trauma occurs, remember - stay calm and keep your child's dentist's phone number handy.

-----------------Dr Liu is a pediatric dentist associated with the cleft palate team at Odessa Brown Hospital in Seattle, WA. Joanne Green is the Editor of WIDE SMILES Magazine.

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