Teeth are built strong to withstand our day-to-day lives. From crunching down on hard foods to taking a fall, our teeth have to be resilient. Unfortunately, no part of our body is indestructible. Our teeth have their limits and can become injured from trauma. Some types of tooth injury are more common than others, and usually require medical treatment to fix.
When a tooth is displaced from its socket (but is not knocked out), it is luxated. Sports trauma in the absence of a mouth guard is one of the top causes of this type of injury. A person who has fallen and hit their mouth on a hard object may also have teeth displaced from their sockets. Depending on the severity of the injury, a dentist may be able to repair the teeth if seen within a short time of the trauma.
The outermost layers of the tooth, known as enamel and dentin, are occasionally cracked or chipped. Trauma is not the only cause of this type of injury. A number of chipped teeth happen as a result of biting down on something hard like a pit fragment hidden inside of an olive. In cases where the damage is on the surface, the chipped portion of the tooth can often be reattached. The chipped space may also be filled with tooth-colored composite material in much the same way that a cavity is treated.
Like chipping, fracturing happens both from trauma and biting down on certain hard objects. X-rays may be required to detect these fractures that form in the enamel and dentin layers. Fractured teeth will be more heat sensitive, and may hurt when pressure is applied. Even when they are not visible to the naked eye, these injuries can give bacteria access to the inside of the tooth, resulting in infection. More severe damage may visibly expose the dental pulp (living tissue encased in every tooth) and require root canal therapy to prevent further pain. Cracked or chipped teeth that go untreated can develop infections, leading to more severe complications.
Teeth that are knocked out are avulsed. If immediate action is taken, it may be possible for a dental professional to replant the tooth. When retrieving and handling the tooth, it is important to only touch the crown (the white part at the top) to avoid further damaging the roots. Rinse the tooth briefly (only about 10 seconds) with cold water to remove dirt.
If possible, place the tooth in the socket and bite on a handkerchief to hold it in position. In cases where the tooth cannot be held in the socket, it may be transported in a container filled with milk or other suitable fluid specifically for avulsed teeth. In the absence of these fluids, the tooth can be held in the patient’s cheek or in a container of their saliva to keep it from drying out. Never transport the tooth in water. Seek dental help immediately.
Repairing the Damage
Tooth trauma is painful, and should be treated as soon as possible for the best chances of recovery. If it is not possible to receive treatment fast enough to save the injured tooth or teeth, it is possible to replace teeth with dental implants and bridges. Your overall health is directly impacted by the health of your teeth. When your teeth are injured and untreated, it can have consequences for the rest of your body as well.
If you have sustained a dental injury that was not treated in time to save the tooth, we can help. Please call 918-528-3330 to make an appointment today.