Traumatic Dental Injuries and Treatment Options
Experiencing a traumatic dental injury can be more than just painful. It can be risky, costly, and embarrassing for some people. Most cases of traumatic injury are caused by an accident or sport injury, and involve chipped teeth. However, a tooth can also become dislodged, or completely knocked out.
It will depend on the type of injury and the severity of it, as to what treatment the doctor will recommend. Seeking immediate help, even if the injury seems minor, is vital to the best possible recovery. Ignoring an injury can lead to more complicated issues later down the road, including the teeth that are adjoining the injured tooth. Endodontists specialize in traumatic injury, and they will examine your injury, assess it, and then determine what needs to be done to repair the tooth. They will also make sure there isn’t more damage than you suspect, hiding in an area that is not visible to you.
Fractured and Chipped Teeth
If a tooth is fractured, it can be repaired by re-affixing the broken piece, or using a realistic tooth-colored filling. However, if a significant portion of the tooth has broken off, a crown might be necessary to bring the tooth back to complete health and full functionality.
If the injury exposed the pulp, you probably will need a root canal. If drinking cold beverages produces pain in the injured area, or breathing in and out through your mouth triggers pain, seek medical attention as soon as possible. Until you can get to the endodontist, try biting on a clean and moist piece of cloth or gauze. Do NOT use a topical pain reliever.
If a tooth is split, rather than cracked, it might require extraction.
If the tooth has been dislodged or knocked out completely, it’s called a luxated or avulsed tooth. These types of injuries require more entailed treatment.
Injuries to the mouth could cause a tooth to be loosened, or even dislodged, from the socket. It is very important for you to seek endodontics care as soon as possible. Your general dentist or endodontist may be able to stabilize and reposition the tooth. If the endodontist deems it necessary to have a root canal treatment done, it’s best to have it done within 1 to 2 weeks of the initial injury. During the initial appointment, calcium hydroxide will most likely be used to seal the inner tooth. At the next appointment, a permanent filling for a root canal might be implanted. This is normally about 2 to 3 weeks after the first appointment.
Once in a while, teeth might be driven out of the socket. Just like above, the dentist or endodontist might be able to stabilize and reposition the tooth. No further treatment will be necessary, as long as the pulp remains healthy. However, a root canal would be in order, if the pulp is infected or damaged.
Another traumatic injury is when the tooth suffers a horizontal root fracture. The treatment and prognosis will often depend on where the fracture is located. The probability of success is much greater if the fracture occurred near the tip of the root. However, the success rate is more of a concern, and will be reduced the closer the fracture is to your gum line.
Splints and Stabilization
The doctor might also want to stabilize the tooth with a special splint for a time period. Short term support from a non-rigid splint is sometimes done for avulsed, luxated, and root-fractured injuries. This is done to protect the repositioning that was necessary for the initial treatment.
Sometimes a tooth may be pushed partially out of the socket. Again, your endodontist or general dentist may reposition and stabilize your tooth. If the pulp remains healthy, then no other treatment is necessary. Yet, if the pulp becomes damaged or infected, root canal treatment will be required.
At times, the tooth might be entirely knocked out of the socket. If that’s the case, it’s vital for you to seek treatment right away. Keeping the tooth moist until you can see the endodontist will increase the chance of it being saved. Placing the tooth into some milk, or salt water, will help to keep the tooth viable. Also, place it back into the exposed socket, if you can. Depending on the condition of the root, a root canal might be performed. However, it also depends on how long the tooth was out of the mouth, as well as how you kept the tooth before getting into the office.