Dental trauma is an injury to the teeth, gums, or nearby tissue, such as the lips and tongue. It is quite broad in scope and can range from major to minor injuries. As a rule, any type of trauma can cause tooth trauma. Such as motorbike accidents, motor vehicle collisions, sparring accidents, and sporting injuries.
Tooth fractures or chips
If you feel pain when eating or when the temperature changes, it is possible that you have got a tooth fracture. On the other hand, a chipped tooth is easy to repair. Generally, it involves re-attaching the broken off piece or replacing it with another material.
But there is much more variety when it comes to tooth fractures. For example, fractured cusps and cracked teeth need more advanced care. In other words, the type of treatment that you need depends on the type of dental trauma that your teeth have sustained.
For instance, when tooth fracture has extended all the way down to the root, your dentist may recommend tooth extraction. This is to prevent further damage to the gums or bone.
A luxated tooth is a dislodged tooth. After trauma, the tooth may end up out of the socket (extrusive luxation). In the same fashion, it can also go further into the socket (intrusive luxation). Again, it can also go sideways within the socket (lateral luxation), or knocked loose within the socket (subluxation).
Of course, treatment varies depending on the severity of the damage. Your dentist may push the tooth back into place by hand. Or, root canal treatment may be necessary if the tooth pulp has started to die.
A tooth which has been completely knocked out of its socket is an avulsed tooth. And, it is often caused by trauma to the mouth and requires immediate treatment to save the tooth. The prognosis depends on a couple of different factors, including:
- How long the tooth was outside of the mouth for (over 60 minutes can result in the death of periodontal ligament cells).
- The medium of storage (milk is best, but it’s most important that the tooth does not dry out, otherwise the periodontal ligament won’t survive). If possible, the tooth should be immediately replanted into the socket after washing.
- How the rescuer carried the tooth (by the crown is preferable to the root).
- Whether the tooth was re-inserted immediately (this is the best course of action).
Root fractures are one of the most serious forms of dental trauma. If your teeth feel tender and there is pain when you eat, you may have sustained a vertical root fracture. In this case, fractures close to the tip of the root are better for your chances of saving the tooth. But, fractures close to the tooth’s gum line can pose a variety of problems.
Generally, treatment involves splinting the tooth over a period of around 4 weeks to stabilize it. For some fractures, a longer stabilization time is necessary.
Dental trauma is difficult to prevent against because it is usually the result of an accident. Still, there are things that you can do – particularly when taking part in sporting or high-risk events – to keep yourself protected. One of the easiest is to wear a well-fitted mouth guard, something which can protect you from tooth trauma even when you’re in physical situations. Other preventative measures include:
- Wearing a seatbelt when you drive.
- Wearing a helmet or head guard during physical sports activities.
- Have regular check-ups – healthy teeth generally recover faster than unhealthy teeth.