Smartphones are fun and useful, and the age at which kids get them keeps getting younger. This is good in some ways, because the younger they start using technology, the more proficient they can become. But there are also some drawbacks, especially when it’s time for them to put their phone down and do homework, do chores, or eat dinner.
But there’s another risk that people might not appreciate: tooth injuries.
Use while Lying Down Leads to Risk
In this statement, published in the journal Dental Traumatology, researchers noted that younger children who use their phones while lying on their backs could put themselves at risk for dental injuries. Children like to use smartphones for watching videos, playing games, and taking selfies, all of which place the phone directly above and ahead of their face. This can lead to facial and dental injuries if they drop their phone, which is especially likely to happen if kids are using the phone at night before bed.
The weight of some phones can approach eight ounces while tablets can approach two pounds, and children often lack the strength and coordination to keep holding a phone over their face. Then if they begin to doze off while using the phone, they are even more likely to drop it.
The authors noted that they saw 10 such injuries at their clinic during a recent three-month period.
Age and Injury Risk
Authors of the article noted that the specific level of risk was related to the age of the child. They noted that children aged 2-5 were at the highest risk because of their softer facial structure. Children who were getting their first teeth (ages 2-6) could experience loose front teeth, as well as potential shifting of their teeth due to trauma. Older children, age 6-12, are more likely to use their phones extensively for a variety of purposes, and therefore might be at the highest risk level. However, the risk continues through the teenage years. One 2016 case report told of a woman who chipped her tooth by running into a smartphone held by her boyfriend.
Researchers note that there are a number of strategies for reducing the risk of phone-related injuries. These might include:
- Limiting the time spend using cell phones
- Stopping kids from using phones held over them
- Getting smaller phones for children to use
With these strategies, children are less likely to injure themselves by dropping phones on their teeth.
Adults Are Also at Risk
While this article focuses on the risk of tooth injury for children, anyone who uses cell phones in this way puts themselves at risk. Especially if you’re using your phone in bed, where you’re more likely to doze off, you could drop your phone and injure one or more teeth.
It’s a good idea anyway to avoid using your smartphone just before bed, but this risk gives another reason to avoid the practice.
Did You or Your Child Injure a Tooth?
If you or your child injured a tooth by dropping a smartphone or other causes, we can help. If there are visible chips, we can repair them quickly with inexpensive dental bonding, which is an especially good way to repair a primary tooth. For adults, veneers make a better long-term restorative choice. If there’s no visible damage, we can check to make sure the tooth didn’t suffer internal injuries or cracking below the gum line. If your tooth is sensitive or if it starts to discolor, it’s important to see us right away to learn whether you have experienced a serious tooth injury that might require root canal therapy.