Medical, dental and orthodontic practices all over the country observed Childhood Injury Prevention Week Sept. 1-7, but we want to remind parents and patients that injury prevention is a year-round task.
Dr. Yan Razdolsky is a Buffalo Grove orthodontist who has seen a variety of dentofacial injuries during the 27 years he has been an orthodontist.
The most common injury in the United States for children who have severe overjet or overbite is fractured upper front teeth caused by trauma or sports-related injuries. A study published in the publication Dental Traumatology in 2008 found that traumatic dental injury remains a problem today primarily due to four reasons:
- Trauma to the oral region happens often, and comprises five percent of all injuries for which people seek treatment in all dental clinics and hospitals.
- Traumatic dental injuries are common among children who are still growing. It is estimated that as much as 18 percent of all injuries in preschool-age children are traumatic dental injuries.
- Treating traumatic dental injuries can be complicated and expensive, because it often necessitates the involvement of specialists from multiple disciplines.
- In contrast to many other traumatic injuries, traumatic dental injuries mostly are irreversible. Treatment likely must continue periodically for the rest of the patient’s life.
While this information paints a rather bleak picture, there is a ray of light. Overjet (the upper front teeth protrude outwardly and in front of the lower front teeth) and overbite (the upper front teeth come down too far over the lower front teeth), which typically are present when a child receives a traumatic dental injury, can be effectively corrected with orthodontic treatment.
Teeth that jut outward or downward farther than they are supposed to are more susceptible to blunt forces to the face and jaw. Correcting these types of malocclusions not only improves bite and alignment issues, but it reduces the likelihood of serious damage being caused if a child receives a blow to the face while playing organized sports or participating in other activities.
“It’s encouraging for many parents to learn that these two conditions, which can potentially lead to significant, permanent damage, can be successfully addressed with orthodontic treatment,” says Dr. Razdolsky.
One key to treating these types of malocclusion is identifying the best time to begin treatment. The American Association of Orthodontists recommends children be evaluated by an orthodontist at age 7. Your child’s bite is established at this age, and he has a mix of baby and adult teeth. Dr. Razdolsky can conduct a thorough assessment and determine if interceptive treatment would be beneficial in your child’s case. If no treatment is recommended, your child simply will be monitored periodically to determine the optimum time to begin treatment.
Another important part of life for children who participate in a variety of sports – before, during and after orthodontic treatment- is the use of a properly fitting mouth guard. Custom-made mouth guards protect the teeth and jaws from blunt forces, and can even help prevent concussions.
We are happy that there is a week devoted each year to raising awareness regarding the importance of preventing childhood injuries. As orthodontic professionals, we work all year long to protect our patients’ dental and oral health, and we know parents do, too. Please protect your children from traumatic dental injuries by having them evaluated for orthodontic treatment. This simple step can protect your children’s teeth for a lifetime.