Health: Dental risk from seatbelts

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Some children may be at risk of damaging or losing their teeth when wearing seatbelts, a report suggests.

Richard Welbury, from Newcastle Dental Hospital and School, yesterday warned that while seatbelt laws had led to a reduction in serious injuries in children, among youngsters who are too large for safety or "booster" seats and too small for adult seat belts, the risk of injury is increased.

His claims follow a case in which a seven-year-old boy, travelling in this situation, lost a tooth following an emergency stop in his father's car.

The boy was sitting in the front seat when the seatbelt became entangled in his mouth. It is believed that the seatbelt became lodged between two of the boy's lower teeth, one permanent, the other a milk tooth, and the milk tooth became displaced.

It is thought that this is the first documented case of a seatbelt causing just a dental injury.