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Mouth and Dental Injuries - Prevention

Many mouth and dental injuries can be prevented by taking the following steps.

  • Have regular dental checkups. If your gums and teeth are healthy, you are more likely to recover from an injury quickly and completely. For more information, see the topic Basic Dental Care.
  • Use a seat belt to prevent or reduce injuries to the mouth during a motor vehicle accident. Always place your child in a child car seat to prevent injuries.
  • Wear a mouth guard while participating in sports. A mouth protector can be made by a dentist or purchased at a store that sells athletic supplies.
  • Wear a helmet and face guard in sports during which a face, mouth, or head injury could occur.
  • If you wear an orthodontic appliance, such as a retainer or headgear, follow your orthodontist's instructions about proper wear and care of it. Learn as much about your orthodontic appliance as you can.
    • Remove headgear and wear a protective mouth guard when playing sports.
    • Remove headgear before engaging in rough play.
    • Do not eat foods that are hard, chewy, crunchy, or sticky.
    • Do not pick at or pull on your braces.
    • Use orthodontic wax to protect the inside of your mouth from poking wires.
    • Store the appliance in the case provided by your orthodontist.
  • If you grind your teeth, ask your dentist whether he or she recommends a mouth guard.
  • If you have seizures or other medical problems that may increase your risk of falls, ask your doctor if and when he or she recommends that you use a helmet and face guard to protect your head and mouth.

More steps to prevent mouth and dental injuries in young children include the following:

  • Be aware of your child's chance of falling, and take steps to prevent falls.
  • When your toddler is using a bottle or sippy cup, have him or her stay seated. Don't allow your child to walk or run with any objects in his or her mouth.
  • Never leave a baby unattended in high places, such as on a tabletop, in a crib with the sides down, or even on a bed or sofa.
  • Do not leave a baby unattended in any infant seat or "sitting" toy, such as a swing, walker, saucer, or jumper. Use all the safety straps provided.
  • Be gentle when placing a bottle or spoon in a baby's or child's mouth. An object that is jammed into the mouth can tear the skin between the lips and gums or under the tongue (frenulum).
  • If your child has protruding teeth, have them examined by a dentist. Protruding teeth are more likely to be injured.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: July 20, 2012
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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    How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

    Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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    You are currently

    Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

    You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

    Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

    SOURCES:

    American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

    This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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