Norton, E., O’Connell, A.C.

Aims: This study sought to establish the prevalence of traumatic dental injuries in the primary dentition of Irish children and to investigate the relationship between dental trauma and non-nutritive sucking habits.

Materials and methods: Following ethical approval, a variety of schools and crèches in an urban setting were identified and parents of over 1,000 children were contacted. Consent was obtained, and parental questionnaires were completed prior to a clinical examination of the children by one operator in a non-dental setting. Signs of previous dental trauma were noted, and overbite and overjet were measured.

Results: A total of 839 children were examined. The prevalence of dental trauma was 25.6%, with boys more frequently affected. The most commonly observed dental injury was fracture of enamel (39.4%), followed by crown discolouration (20.2%). Only 38.8% of the children with a reported history of trauma sought dental care. Non-nutritive sucking habits were reported in 63.5% of the sample, and these habits, if prolonged, were significantly associated with anterior open bites and increased overjet (p<0.001). Using regression analysis, it was established that the risk of dental injury is 2.99 times greater if the child has an overjet >6mm and 2.02 times greater if the child has an anterior open bite.

Conclusions: Non-nutritive sucking habits are associated with the establishment of anterior open bite and increased overjet in the primary dentition. These malocclusions are, in turn, significantly associated with an increased prevalence of dental trauma in the primary dentition.

Dent Traumatol 2012; 28 (1): 81-86.