We have worked with Dr. Jeff Flannery and his team at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry since our launch, and one goal of this partnership has been to provide Birmingham families with great information from qualified professionals for anything pertaining to kids’ dental health. So when we mention mouth injuries, please don’t cringe and run away. We promise not to share anything graphic but to instead provide some great tips for prevention as well as the peace of mind that there are people ready and willing to walk through any type of accident with you and your kids. These things do sometimes happen, but the specialized training everyone at Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry has received can make them much easier to navigate. Ready? Let’s dive in!
When you speak to people in the medical profession, you come to realize that there are a lot of crazy injuries out there, and the majority of them are preventable. This is the case when it comes to the majority of dental trauma in children, so it’s helpful to share a bit of what Dr. Jeff and his team have seen and how some of these things can be avoided.
Common causes of injuries in the teeth and mouth
- Coffee tables
- Bathtub nozzles
- Bathtubs themselves
- Running with objects in mouths, particularly toothbrushes
- Riding bikes and scooters
What to do
You might not want to hear this, but there is a certain season of life where the coffee table may need to be removed from the home. Toddler injuries due to this piece of furniture are common, and if you’ve experienced your little monkeys jumping around and climbing dangerously despite many pleas and consequences, you may need to just take a break. After some of the things Dr. Jeff has seen, he finds this to be the best approach for families whose kids play dangerously, but there are bumper pads available as well. Grab those if moving the table isn’t an option for you.
Did you know bathtub nozzles are to blame for a large amount of dental injuries in kids? Neither did we. Nozzle covers like this one are designed to keep kids’ mouths safe should a slip occur, and they can be found in most places that sell child products. If you have a kid who refuses to sit in the tub (Can we all just admit this is 100% a thing?), get one NOW!
Slipping in the tub and catching a mouth on the side is extremely painful, and it can cause major mouth trauma. Besides the obvious warning to keep kids seated while in the tub, don’t skip a slip mat for bathing! It can make a big difference for a little one covered in soap. When picking a squirmy child up from the water, sacrifice an extra towel to grip him or her with something besides your bare hands. It’s worth the hassle. And we have to mention this: Never, ever, ever leave children unattended in the tub, even for a second.
Running with objects in mouths, particularly toothbrushes
Running with anything in the mouth has to be a hard, fast no. Do not get lazy on this. Do not assume it will be okay because nothing happened last time. An object in the mouth can pierce a child through the back of the throat. Dr. Jeff has seen it, and he kindly asked that we pass on the warning.
Kids can play sports! Sports are great for kids! Remember that Dr. Jeff played football at Samford and even coached a high school team before beginning his dental practice? He’s all for sports, but he’s also all for mouth guards. When your child reaches his or her teen years, a custom mouth guard from Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry is a great option for the most accurate fit, but that step can be skipped as kids’ mouths are still growing rapidly. Read: The custom guard can wait until high school, but other guards can’t wait. If your child is playing a contact sport of any kind, he or she needs a mouth guard.
Riding bikes and scooters
We all have bike crash stories from our childhoods, right? Here’s hoping yours doesn’t involve your teeth! Crashes happen, but the injuries can be minimized with the right equipment. Dr. Jeff is a huge advocate for using helmets that include a mouth shield. If a child lands on pavement in a simple, round helmet, his are her teeth aren’t protected at all. From what he has seen in his field, he encourages parents to go the extra step.
We can’t talk about mouth injuries in kids without mentioning falls. Dr. Jeff just cautions parents against letting laziness set in when it comes to the things we know are unsafe. If a child is in a car seat, have him or strapped in properly at all times. If the seat isn’t in the vehicle yet, don’t set it on an unstable surface or anywhere high off the ground. Strap kids into high chairs, and do not leave them unattended. Never let kids ride in grocery carts without straps and supervision. Keep baby gates latched at home, and watch out for stairs in others’ homes. As the parent, stay on high alert as your child is still growing and learning.
In the case of an injury
Call your child’s dentist! The number for Oak Mountain Pediatric Dentistry is 205-980-1338, and the staff will take care of your child as well as you. As moms, can we just admit that the way someone handles us with care when our babies are hurt is vital? There are so many emotions around an injury, and it’s difficult as a parent to keep our child from seeing how very sad, upset, sorry, or angry we are. Dr. Jeff and his staff are for not only your children but for you. They will be gentle, they will be kind, and they will make sure your little one receives the best care possible.
How do they do it?
1) They’re just genuinely kind people. Remember the profiles we did on Dr. Jeff’s team? They sure do love their patients!
2) They create an environment where kids and parents feel safe, from their own attitudes to the office itself.
3) Everyone uses soft language and gentle words.
4) They train for distraction. A three-year-old in a chair is much different from an adult.
5) They have confidence in each situation that comes through the door. They have prepared, and they trust their skills.
6) Sedation. It’s true that sedation is sometimes necessary, and Dr. Jeff makes sure it is available.
7) Dr. Jeff has years of specialized training in facial trauma for adolescents.
8) The staff is trained to deal with issues teens face, including emotions and social status.
Go in confidence!
We don’t want to think too much on the what-ifs as parents, but the truth is that people get hurt, and children are more prone to injuries than adults. Take these tips, exercise them with confidence, and know that you have Dr. Jeff and his entire team behind you and your kids should you need them!