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Key Facts

Oral Injury

Photo of girl buckling up her seatbelt

  Share these facts to help improve the oral health of pregnant women, children, adolescents, and their families.

  •  Pediatricians and primary care physicians can provide oral-injury–prevention messages while providing other injury-prevention messages during well-child visits. 1
  • Among infants and young children experiencing safety-gate-associated injuries, those under age 2 more often experienced injuries to the head and mouth, whereas those ages 2–6 more often experienced upper- and lower-extremity injuries. Increased efforts are needed to promote proper baby-gate use, ensure safety in product design, and increase awareness of age-related recommendations for use of babygates. 2
  • Oral health professionals should learn to recognize signs of child abuse, including physical abuse, and child neglect, which often involve injury to the mouth and teeth. Obtaining a thorough history is crucial to rule out possible physical abuse, especially when the oral health professional cannot reliably determine from a child or adolescent or his or her parent or guardian the cause of a potentially nonaccidental injury. 3
  • Most oral injuries sustained by high school athletes occur while athletes are not wearing mouthguards. 4
  • All high school athletes participating in a sport that places them at risk of sustaining an oral injury should be reminded to wear a mouthguard consistently in both competition and practice. 4
  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry encourages dentists to play an active role in educating the public in the use of protective equipment for the prevention of oro-facial injuries during sporting and recreational activities. 5
  • Oral-piercing-related injuries are a relatively infrequent yet significant reason for seeking care in hospital emergency departments (EDs). Overall, females are more likely than males to seek care for oral-piercing-related injuries in the ED, and females and males ages 14–22 are more likely than individuals in other age groups to seek such care in the ED. Infection at the piercing site and mucosal overgrowth of oral jewelry are the most frequent reasons for seeking care. 6


  1. Keels MA; American Academy of Pediatrics, Section on Oral Health. 2014. Management of dental trauma in a primary care setting. Pediatrics 133(2):e466–e476.
  2. Cheng YW, Fletcher EN, Roberts KJ, McKenzie LB. 2014. Baby gate–related injuries among children in the United States, 1990–2010. Academic Pediatrics 14(3):256–261.
  3. Katner DR, Brown CE. 2012. Mandatory reporting of oral injuries indicating possible child abuse. Journal of the American Dental Association 143(10):1087–1092.
  4. Collins CL, McKenzie LB, Ferketich AK, Andridge R, Xiang H, Comstock RD. 2014. Dental injuries sustained by high school athletes in the United States, from 2008/2009 through 2013/2014 academic years. Dental Traumatology 31(5):1–7.
  5. American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. 2016. Policy on prevention of sports-related orofacial injuries.
  6. Gill JB, Karp JM, Kopycka-Kedzierawski DT. 2012. Oral piercing injuries treated in United States emergency departments, 2002–2008. Pediatric Dentistry34(1):56–60.


National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center. 2017. Key Facts: Oral Injury. Washington, DC: National Maternal and Child Oral Health Resource Center.