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Maternal and Child Health Bureau logoA Health Professionals Guide to Pediatric Oral Health Management
HomeModuleModule 1: An Introduction to Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 2: Managing Infants' and Young Children's Oral HealthModule 3: Oral Conditions and AbnormalitiesModule 4: Prevention of Oral DiseaseModule 5: Non-Nutritive Sucking HabitsModule 6: Oral InjuryModule 7: Infants and Young Children with Special Health Care NeedsContentsGlossaryEvaluationHelp
Module 6: Oral Injury
Module Contents
6.1 Injury Prevention
Anticipatory Guidance
6.2 Child Abuse and Neglect
6.3 Injury Types and Consequences
Injury Types (current page)
Injury Consequences
6.4 Managing Oral Injuries
Avulsed Teeth
Key Points
Additional Resources

6.3 Injury Types and Consequences

Injury Types

photo close-up of child with oral trauma
  Fig 1. Trauma — Primary Teeth

In infants and young children, the teeth most often affected by oral injury are the upper front primary teeth (Figure 1). The most common type of injury is a displacement injury with gingival bleeding. Intrusion injuries, in which a primary tooth is driven into the alveolar bone, are also common. Avulsion of the tooth can also occur.

Oral soft tissues — including the lips, tongue, palate, frena, and gingiva — can also be injured. Impalement injuries can occur when an infant or young child falls with an object in the mouth and the object penetrates the oral soft tissues.

Jaw fractures, while uncommon among infants and young children, can occur, especially with a significant blow to the face or the chin. Jaw fractures result in difficulty opening and closing the mouth, facial asymmetry, and/or paresthesia (a sensation of pricking, tingling, or creeping).

Infants and children who experience an oral burn as a result of chewing on electrical cords should be referred to a burn specialist for assessment and possible intervention. Early referral is crucial to reduce the risk of scarring and fusion of the oral commisures (sites of union of corresponding parts), as the risk increases with delayed care.[6]

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