Traumatic dentofacial injuries in children are often ignored due to lack of awareness about their severity. The damage to the involved teeth in the injury may become a source of infection or orthodontic problem in the long run if left untreated. Children can present with various types of hard and soft tissue injuries due to accidents, trauma and falls. Following are few common injuries which require immediate medical or dental attention.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries are the most commonly seen type of injuries in children. They may or may not be associated with hard tissue (bone) injuries. The most frequently involved site of a soft tissue injury in children is the chin followed by the lip. Other soft tissue injuries involve minor lacerations, contusions, abrasions and minor burns in and around oral cavity. Bite wounds also present as soft tissue injuries. These injuries should be attended promptly as the facial injuries tend to leave a scar.
Hard Tissue Injuries
Facial fractures in children are more common in boys in the age group of 6 to 12 years of age. The lower jaw is the most commonly fractured bone in these cases. Injury to the anterior teeth is also a common type of injury seen in young children. The children in the age group of 1 to 2 ½ years sustain injuries to the milk teeth more frequently. The trauma to the front teeth is also very common among school going children of 8 to 11 years of age.
The factors involved in a dentofacial injury can be numerous. The major causes for injury include :
- Fall. Dental and facial injuries can occur followed by fall from steps or climbing apparatus. It is infrequent in babies but can occur due to a fall from a stroller or bed.
- Accidents. Bicycle accidents are the most common cause of accident-related dental trauma.
- Sports. These injuries can occur due to trauma from a blunt object such as baseball bat, hockey puck or football.
- Abuse. Battered child with domestic violence may be prone to dentofacial injuries in a child.
Management of dentofacial injuries in children is easier if treated in an early stage. Cases with lower jaw fractures or facial bones fractures require immediate medical and dental treatment. The management of fractures varies according to the extent of fracture and age of the patient. Surgical approach may be necessary in severe cases.
The trauma to the front teeth may cause simple dental fractures involving the jaw bones. Both types of fractures require dental intervention. The offending teeth may have to be extracted, splinted or endodontically treated in order to maintain the dental health of the patient. Prosthodontic replacements or orthodontic space maintainers are provided in case of extracted teeth. Peri-oral injuries or trauma to the chin should be carefully examined and sutures should be placed if required.