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How common is dental trauma?

Jim Woods
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics
As an orthodontist I see a lot of dental trauma associated with patients who have protruding upper teeth. Because the upper teeth "stick out" they are often subject to chipping or fracture. It is a good idea to have these teeth retracted with braces in order to bring them back inside the mouth structure in a more protective position.
Between 13% and 39% of all dental trauma are sports injuries  and 80% involve the front teeth. Football players who use a mouth guard prevent roughly 200,000 mouth injuries every year. Many more dental injuries have been prevented in other sports like hockey and basketball. Children are most at-risk for dental emergencies; 25% of 12-year-olds have injured their permanent teeth, and up to 33% of 5-year-olds have injured their primary teeth.
Dental trauma is extremely common. It can result from and/or includes getting hit in the mouth, auto accidents, bike accidents, sports accidents, tooth avulsion (tooth knocked out), tooth fracture form biting into something hard (or sometimes even soft), gingival trauma from such things as food, brushing and toothpicks, occlusal (biting) trauma, and trauma to the teeth from acidic food, chemicals and illegal drugs.

Sometimes the results of the trauma may not appear for many years later. This can occur when a tooth requires root canal treatment as a result of trauma many years previous. In fact, there are times when a patient does not even remember the apparent traumatic incident.

This is the reason why it is important to protect the teeth when involved in activities where injury may occur. Mouthguards, face and head protection and awareness of potential dangers, along with the ability to get out of the way, are essential to avoiding dental injury.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.