Dental trauma refers to damage to the teeth or gums, or to the ligaments, soft tissue, or bone that surround the teeth. If often results from an injury to your mouth (such as due to a fall, a car accident, or a sports injury).
If you’re suffering from dental trauma, it’s vital that you seek immediate professional help – even if you’re not currently in pain. Why is that? If treatment is delayed too long, you raise the risk of losing your tooth. However, with the right treatment, it’s often possible to restore an injured tooth to full function and normal appearance.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the causes, preventative measures, and ways to deal with dental trauma.
As you might imagine, sports-related injuries to the mouth are among the most common.
Of course, the best way to protect your mouth and teeth from sports injuries is by means of preventative measures. For example, studies show that a high-quality mouthguard can greatly reduce the risk of sports-related dental injury.
If you regularly play a sport that has high potential for injury, you might consider investing in a custom-made mouthguard.
Chipped and Broken Teeth
If you chip or break a tooth, it’s important that you see a dentist right away (within 12 hours if possible). Be sure to bring along any parts of the tooth you’re able to locate, as it may be possible for the dentist to reattach these.
And if you’ve suffered a chipped or broken tooth in the past, there are numerous options available that can help to restore your appearance, so that the damage is no longer visible.
Video Overview: Trauma- Chipped Tooth
This video provides an overview of what constitutes a chipped tooth, the steps your doctor will take to rule out potential additional injury, and the importance of seeking treatment to restore the tooth’s appearance and function.
Displaced and Detached Teeth
If your tooth gets moved out of place, don’t try to move it back. Come see us right away, and a dentist or oral surgeon will perform a careful oral exam, possibly take x-rays, and advise you what to do next.
If a tooth is somehow removed, locate it and gently rinse it off with water (being careful not to touch the root).
Try your best to reposition the tooth in the socket by carefully pushing it up into the socket. Then, hold the tooth in place with your fingers, or by gently biting down. Keep this position for five minutes. (The sooner this is done, the greater the tooth’s chance of survival.)
If you’re unable to replant the tooth in the socket, it’s important to keep it moist. Above all, don’t let the tooth dry out. You might place the tooth in a bag of cold milk or a plastic bag, along with some of your saliva. (Avoid using tap water since this could damage the tooth roots.) If you’re bleeding, use clean gauze or another material to apply pressure to the affected area.
Try your best to get to the nearest available dentist quickly. While it’s possible to save a tooth that’s been detached for over an hour, chances are much higher if you can receive treatment within 30 minutes.
Video Overview: Trauma- Avulsed Tooth
This video provides an overview of what happens when a tooth is avulsed, or “knocked out,” the steps your doctor will take to rule out potential additional injury, and the importance of seeking immediate treatment to improve chances of preserving the tooth.