Did your child have an accident that injured his teeth or mouth? You must be feeling all kinds of emotions. I know exactly how you feel. Here I share the experience I had when my three year old daughter damaged her two front teeth.
A Rock Hill dentist for the past 9 years and a mom for almost 4 years, I hope my perspective both educates and encourages you.
I know dealing with the accident will help me as I treat children in my Rock Hill dental office.
Am I a bad mom? How could I let this happen? Will my child be OK?
These might be some of the questions running through your head if your young child has an injury to the mouth and teeth.
This is how I felt in December when my 3 year old daughter fell from the potty and slammed her front teeth on the porcelain. She was hurt, scared, and bleeding.
I felt terrible.
We were both crying. I gathered my composure and with the help of her GrandBill (Dr. Cranford) got her calmed down.
I learned a lot through from Liddy’s accident. Consequently, I am happy to share this information to help you if you if your child damages his teeth in an accident.
I now have a lot more empathy for the children and the parents that we see at Cranford Dental after dental accidents.
Dental Accidents Happen
Young children can be clumsy. They aren’t as aware of risks and dangers as we adults are. Additionally, they are active and energetic. All of these things make them prone to accidents.
Despite our very best efforts, accidents are going to happen. And when they do, that doesn’t mean that we as parents did anything wrong.Dr. Elizabeth Cranford Robinson
I felt guilty that Liddy hurt her mouth, but I accepted that it was an accident and it wasn’t my fault. Once I realized that, I could move forward and make the right decisions for her care.
Children mirror our emotions
When I first saw Liddy’s bleeding mouth, I began crying and panicking. That made her cry more.
Liddy did not like to see her mom scared. I took a deep breath, gave her a big hug, and told her what we could do to make her feel better. Once I calmed down it was much easier for her to calm down.
I was still “freaking out” on the inside, but it was important to show Liddy that she was going to be OK.
My advice for you if your child experiences an accident or injury is to remain calm and in control. (or at least fake it!) Your child is looking to you to know how to react to the situation.Dr. Elizabeth Cranford Robinson
Children are resilient
Within minutes of her injury, Liddy was smiling and laughing again. The bribe of a strawberry slush from Sonic certainly helped!
Several months later, and Liddy still talks about that day every once in a while. However, what she remembers is that Mom and GrandBill made her feel better and that she had a strawberry slush!
A few months after the initial injury, Liddy’s front teeth abscessed and needed to be removed.
Liddy handled her procedure well. The very next day she was eating normal foods and happily telling people about her trip to the dentist.
Mouths tend to heal quickly, and children do not dwell on things if we encourage them to move on to other topics.
There is a solution for dental accidents
Liddy was hurt and scared, but I knew she wouldn’t be in pain forever. There was a solution to her problem.
At the time, the solution was to ice her lip and get the bleeding to stop. A radiograph a few days later showed that the “solution” was to watch and wait. Several months later the solution became to remove her teeth.
There are very few dental problems that a dentist can’t figure out. Sometimes he or she may need to consult with specialists or textbooks, but there is an answer. In Liddy’s case, I sought the advice of Dr. Cranford and of a pediatric dentist, Dr. Boyne.
If you can’t get your child in to see the dentist right away, you should at least give the dentist a call. He or she may ask you to text a photo of your child so that you can begin to reach a solution immediately.
Help if you have to wait to see the dentist after your child’s accident: Handling Dental Emergencies when Away from Dentist
Encourage your child
“You are OK.” “You are going to do great!” “You are such a wonderful patient!” These are some of the things I told Liddy to encourage her. I didn’t ask her how she was doing– I told her!
Some children respond to words of encouragement, others respond to bribes. Liddy’s tears dried up immediately with the promise of a slush.
She was excited to go to the dentist because a pick from the toy closet was waiting for her after. We let her pick her favorite music to listen to during the procedure. She now associates the dentist with music and with prizes.
In our family little “bribes” work because we reserve them for important situations like doctor and dentist visits.
However, you know what works best for your child and family. Whether you decide to use words or bribes to encourage your child, make sure you put emphasis on the positives of the situation. Avoid any negative terminology.
Healthy matters most
I’ll be honest: when Liddy injured her two front teeth, I was very emotional that her looks changed. She used to have the cutest little baby teeth that melted my heart!
I knew immediately that my little girl’s smile would never be the same and that the potential for her to lose those teeth at age 3 was very high. It was sad. I mourned the loss of her adorable baby smile.
Liddy’s teeth became infected. The only option to treat the infection was to remove those two front teeth.
If we had left the infection in her mouth, it could have hindered the development of her permanent teeth. The infection could have spread and led to a very unhealthy situation for her.
When making decisions about our children’s teeth, we have to put vanity aside and choose what is healthiest.
Moving Forward after Dental Accident
My experience with Liddy’s injury made me a better mom and a more empathetic dentist.
I will be able to remain calm next time one of my children injures their mouth. I will be able to show compassion to my patients and their patients when dental injuries happen.
When a dental accident or injury happens to your child tell yourself: “I am not a bad mom. My child is going to be OK.” I hope it helps you to know that even dentists’ children injure their teeth!Dr. Elizabeth Cranford Robinson
Are you a Mom with experience dealing with a child’s dental injury? What helped you stay calm? How did you encourage your child? Did you have questions for the dentist? Comment below with your advice for other parents.
Contact Cranford Dental if you have any questions or concerns regarding your child’s teeth.
We love to welcome adults and children of all ages to our Rock Hill, SC dental office.