Epidemiology of dental trauma treated in an urban pediatric emergency department

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Study objective

To describe the epidemiology of traumatic dental injuries to children treated in an urban pediatric emergency department (ED).


A descriptive study of a consecutive series of patients.


The ED of a large, academic children's hospital.


Children presenting to the ED with dental trauma from December 1992 to November 1993.


Of 1459 children treated for dental emergencies, 541 had dental trauma (37%) and were enrolled in this study. Patients ranged in age from five months to 18 years. Fifty-nine percent of patients were less than seven years of age, and 59% of patients were male. Falls caused 63% of injuries, followed by being struck (17%), and motor vehicle crashes (2%). Injuries to the soft tissues included lacerations (32%), swelling (8%), abrasions (7%), and contusions (6%). Injuries to hard dental structures included tooth fractures (33%), luxations (18%), concussions (12%), avulsions (8%), and jaw fractures (1%). Tooth luxation and concussion were more common among children less than seven years of age, and fractures to the tooth crown with dentin exposure (Ellis class II) were seen most often among children with permanent dentition (x2 = 41.4, P < 0.005). The central incisors were the teeth most frequently traumatized.


Findings of this large consecutive series provide a useful description of the epidemiology of this common type of pediatric trauma for pediatric emergency care providers.

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