Traumatic dental injuries are more common in children and teenagers, but they can happen to anyone regardless of age.
These injuries can occur due to various incidents such as sports accidents, car crashes, falls, or trips. If you have suffered a traumatic dental injury, it’s crucial to seek immediate dental care. Delaying treatment could lead to further damage to your teeth and surrounding tissues. A dental examination is necessary to accurately assess the extent of the injury and any associated damage.
Types of Dental Injuries
- Chipped or Fractured Teeth
Chipped or fractured teeth can usually be repaired by reattaching the broken piece or by placing a tooth-colored filling. If a large portion of the tooth has been broken off, an artificial crown or cap may be necessary to restore the tooth’s appearance and function. Injuries to the back teeth can involve fractured cusps, cracked teeth, or even a split tooth, which is more serious. If the cracks extend into the root, root canal treatment and a full coverage crown may be needed to restore function to the tooth. In some cases, extraction may be necessary for split teeth.
- Dislodged Tooth
If a tooth has been pushed out of or into its socket during an injury, it’s crucial to see a dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will need to reposition the tooth and stabilize it. If the root of the tooth has been damaged, a root canal procedure may also be necessary to restore the tooth’s health.
- Knocked-out Tooth
If you have a tooth that has been knocked-out, acting quickly can make all the difference in saving it. It is important to handle the tooth with care and avoid touching the root surface. If the tooth is dirty, gently rinse it in water without using soap or any other cleaning agent, and avoid brushing or scraping the tooth. Place the tooth in a clean container with sterile water or saline, or use fresh milk as a temporary transport solution. Time is of the essence when replacing and reimplanting knocked-out teeth. Replacement within two (2) hours provides the best long-term results, however, see your dentist as soon as possible and call them soon after the injury even if being treated by a medical provider at an emergency department or urgent care office.
Ideally, the tooth should be placed back into its socket as soon as possible to increase the chance of saving it. Your dentist will then evaluate the tooth for any other dental or facial injuries. If the tooth cannot be replaced in its socket, your dentist will clean it carefully and put it back in place, using a stabilizing splint for several weeks. Depending on the stage of root development, your dentist may also start root canal treatment a week or two later.
- Root Fractures
When a tooth experiences a traumatic injury, it may result in a horizontal root fracture. The success rate of treatment for this injury depends on the location of the fracture. If the fracture is near the root tip, the chances for successful treatment are higher. However, if the fracture is closer to the gum line, the chances for long-term success are lower. Your dentist may need to stabilize the tooth with a splint for a certain period of time to promote healing.
- Root Resorption
After a traumatic injury, resorption can occur when the body’s defense mechanisms begin to reject the tooth. It’s important to visit your dentist regularly to monitor the tooth and surrounding tissues to ensure that root resorption is not occurring and that the tissues are healing properly.
- Traumatic Dental Injuries in Children
Aesthetic restoration is possible for chipped baby teeth. Dislodged baby teeth can sometimes be repositioned, but it is not recommended to replant knocked-out baby teeth. Doing so may cause permanent damage to the underlying permanent tooth that is still developing inside the bone. Special attention and careful follow-up are necessary for children’s permanent teeth that are not fully developed at the time of injury. However, not all of them will require root canal treatment. An immature permanent tooth may continue to grow its root through the stimulation of stem cells in the region and the blood supply to the tooth.