Protect your Teeth!

Adult teeth are the last pair we will have! So, keeping our gums and teeth in good health is very important. Damaging oral habits such as clenching or grinding teeth, and chewing or biting down on hard object can be a problem for people with developmental disabilities. These habits can cause tooth fractures or compromise the natural shape of a tooth. Here are some precautions you can take to avoid injuries to your teeth:

  • Avoid chewing ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy, all of which can crack a tooth.
  • NEVER use your teeth to cut things, use scissors.
  • Do not use your teeth to open items.
  • Use a mouth guard as recommended by a dental professional or when participating in sports or recreational activities.

Mouth Guards

Self-injurious behavior such as biting the lips, clenching or grinding teeth, also known as bruxism can be involuntary reactions for people with developmental and other disabilities. If you are aware of this habit, be sure to talk to your dental provider.

Mouth guards, also known as mouth protectors are made of soft plastic or laminate and help prevent the loss of tooth structure and minimize the risk of injuries to the teeth, lips, or tongue. Your dental provider may suggest customizing a mouth guard, or may share information regarding other available products.

Sleep Bruxism

Sleep bruxism occurs when you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep. Usually, a night-time grinder is unaware of this habit until it is pointed out by a dental professional and/or another person sharing the same room. Your dental provider may recommend a night guard or share more information about what type of mouth guard to wear while you sleep.

Gum Injury

Even with attempts to prevent injury, your child may still have instances where there is trauma to their mouth, either injuring their gums and/or possibly cracking/prematurely losing a tooth.

If the gums begin to bleed from injury, hold a sterile wet gauze to their gums with steady pressure to stop the bleeding. Cover an icepack with a washcloth to hold to your child’s cheek to prevent severe swelling.

Monitor your child’s health for any pain, fever, and/or swelling of the gums. Once the situation is under control, call your dental provider for their professional opinion. They may request your child to visit the dental office for an examination.

Injured Adult Tooth

An accident or fall can cause an injury to the mouth or teeth. If an injury results to an adult (permanent) tooth such as chipped, broken, or knocked-out, you must act fast!

  • Chipped or broken tooth:
    • Collect all pieces of the tooth
    • Rinse the mouth with warm water
    • Call a dental provider right away and ask for an emergency visit
  • Permanent tooth knocked out:
    • Bite down on sterile gauze to stop the bleeding
    • Grab injured tooth by the crown (white, chewing surface of tooth)
    • Place in a cup of milk or your own saliva. Do not place in tap water! Call a dental provider right away to schedule a visit