Avoiding toothbrush injuries

U.S. & World

(NBC) – When you think of dangerous household items, a toothbrush probably isn’t at the top of your list, but doctors say injuries are not only possible, they can also be potentially serious.

Twice a day, every day, Reese White is at the sink.

Toothbrushing is just part of the routine, but there’s one bizarre accident her family won’t soon forget.

“Walked in, didn’t realize she was behind the door, and I guess the door hit the toothbrush,” said mother Kelley White.

The toothbrush jammed into the back of Reese’s throat, sending the 5-year-old to the hospital.

“We were pretty freaked. Pretty scared,” said father David White.

At University of Missouri Health Care, a CT-scan confirmed no major blood vessels were impacted, but emergency medicine physician Chris Sampson says toothbrushing injuries can be much more serious.

“You have large blood vessels that go to your brain and supply other parts of your body. And so, if the toothbrush should puncture through the back and injure one of those vessels, you could have very severe bleeding,” he said.

In fact, Dr. Sampson reviewed a national injury database and published research that shows oral injuries involving a toothbrush sent an estimated 8,500 people to the emergency department between 2006 and 2016.

Despite a warning label recommending adult supervision, the majority of injuries happened to kids four years old and younger.

“It doesn’t mean that you stop brushing your teeth. It’s just something you have to be careful with when you are brushing your teeth that you’re not running around with it in your mouth,” he said.

Reese’s injury healed on its own, and the Whites hope it will serve as a reminder to others.

“Definitely when she’s in the bathroom I always knock and say, ‘Mom needs to come in,’ or ‘Get away from the door,’ or whatever,” said White.

Dr. Sampson offers these common-sense reminders:

  • Kids under the age of three should brush their teeth with adult supervision.
  • Don’t let kids run around with a toothbrush,
  • Make sure they stand by the sink while brushing.
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