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Aetiology and risk factors related to traumatic dental injuries – a review of the literature


Ulf Glendor DDS, PhD Med Dr (Linköping University), Division of Social Medicine and Public Health Science, Department of Medicine and Society, Linköping University, SE-587 83 Linköping, Sweden
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Abstract –  Background/Aim:  During the past 30 years, the number of aetiologies of traumatic dental injuries (TDIs) has increased dramatically in the literature and now includes a broad spectrum of variables, including oral and environmental factors and human behaviour. The aim of this study is to present an international review of well-known as well as less well-known unintentional and intentional causes of TDIs. Moreover, some models that are useful in investigating contact sport injuries are presented.

Materials and methods:  The databases of Medline, Cochrane, Social Citation Index, Science Citation Index and CINAHL from 1995 to the present were used.

Result:  Oral factors (increased overjet with protrusion), environmental determinants (material deprivation) and human behaviour (risk-taking children, children being bullied, emotionally stressful conditions, obesity and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) were found to increase the risk for TDIs. Other factors increasing the risk for TDIs are presence of illness, learning difficulties, physical limitations and inappropriate use of teeth. A new cause of TDIs that is of particular interest is oral piercing. In traffic facial injury was similar in unrestrained occupants (no seat belts) and occupants restrained only with an air bag. Amateur athletes have been found to suffer from TDIs more often than professional athletes. Falls and collisions mask intentional TDIs, such as physical abuse, assaults and torture. Violence has increased in severity during the past few decades and its role has been underestimated when looking at intentional vs unintentional TDIs. There are useful models to prevent TDIs from occurring in sports. WHO Healthy Cities and WHO Health Promoting Schools Programmes offer a broad solution for dental trauma as a public health problem.

Conclusion:  The number of known causes of TDIs has grown to alarming levels, probably because of increased interest of the causes and the underlying complexity of a TDI. Accepted oral, environmental and human aetiological factors must therefore be included in the registration of TDIs.