A Complete Guide to Traumatic Dental Injuries
Traumatic dental injuries happen all too often.
According to one report, one billion people around the world have experienced some sort of traumatic dental injury. Yet, however common they might be, these dental injuries can feel isolating and overwhelming when you’re in the throes of one.
Preparing ahead of time can help you stay calm if you or someone you know experiences dental trauma. Today, we’re sharing a few of the steps to take, as well as treatments to consider. We’ll also share how to prevent these types of dental injuries from occurring in the future.
Can a knocked-out tooth be saved?
Let’s start with one of the most common traumatic dental injuries: a knocked-out, or avulsed, tooth. Any time someone experiences a blow to their mouth, they are at risk of losing one or more of their teeth. This most commonly occurs in teenagers playing contact sports, though it can happen to anyone, at any time.
If you’re dealing with a tooth that’s been knocked out of its socket, your first thought will naturally be: Can we save it? The answer depends on the extent of the injury, as well as what you do immediately after it occurs.
If the tooth is an adult or permanent one, then it’s important to keep it moist at all times. If possible, try to position it back in the socket without touching the root. If that isn’t possible, then you can place it in the following locations to prevent the root from drying out:
- Between your cheek and gums.
- In a small container of milk.
- In an ADA-accepted tooth preservation product.
Then, schedule an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible. If the knocked-out tooth is a baby tooth, then you’ll still need to keep it moist. Your dentist will be able to assess if the tooth completely or partially came out, and whether or not it can be re-implanted.
How does a traumatic dental injury affect neighboring teeth?
When you experience a dental emergency, you’re understandably focused on the tooth that received the direct impact. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the neighboring teeth around that tooth may also be affected.
In many cases, these underlying issues are only noticeable via a thorough dental exam. This is why it’s so important to schedule a visit with your dentist immediately after the injury occurs. This is especially the case with avulsions, as the teeth adjacent to the knocked-out tooth could also be loose and require treatment.
Oral injuries can also affect the soft tissue in your mouth.
Sometimes, an injury can occur that affects the soft tissues inside your mouth. This includes any type of impact to the following areas:
- Hard palate (front part of the roof of your mouth).
- Soft palate (back part of the roof of your mouth).
- Frenum (the soft tissue that connects the lips and gums).
Frenum and palate injuries are most common in children who are beginning to walk, or who slip and fall while holding hard objects. An emergency dentist can assess these dental injuries and perform wound management as required.
Injuries to lips, tongues, and cheeks can happen if someone accidentally bites any of these areas. This can happen during a sports injury, or simply from chewing incorrectly. If a tooth was also damaged in the incident, then it’s critical to see your dentist immediately, as a tooth fragment could be lodged in the tissue.
If this isn’t the case, then cleanse the spot thoroughly with water and apply a cool compress. If the injury was minor, then the bleeding should stop on its own. If it persists or you’re in significant pain, then contact your dentist to schedule a visit.
A severe injury may have affected the supporting jaw structures.
What should you do if you experience a severe injury to your mouth that affects your jaw structure? This includes any type of impact that breaks, cracks, or dislodges your jaw.
If this happens, a cold compress can help control any swelling. Never attempt to reposition your jaw on your own. Instead, visit your dentist or the hospital emergency room for immediate treatment.
What are the treatment options if I experience a traumatic dental injury?
The specific type of treatment that you receive will depend on the nature of your dental injury, as well as the recommendation of your dentist.
If the issue is cosmetic in nature, such as a chipped tooth, then a crown or veneer can help restore the form and function of the affected area. Likewise, dental implants or dental bridges may be used to address knocked-out teeth that cannot be re-implanted.
However, other dental injuries will require more extensive treatments. If multiple teeth are affected, then a full mouth reconstruction may be the only way to fully address the range of issues. Always consult with your dentist to discuss your dental requirements and learn about all of the available options.
If you have any questions or concerns about the proposed treatments, then we encourage you to reach out to our team. Dr. Alhadef always offers a free second opinion and can develop a custom treatment plan centered around your needs.
How to prevent a dental injury.
There is no foolproof method that will completely safeguard you from ever experiencing a dental injury. However, there are proactive steps you can take to greatly reduce the likelihood of one occurring in the future.
If you play any type of contact sports, then we suggest investing in a custom mouthguard. At our office, we can custom-fit you for a Px3 mouthguard, which not only protects your teeth and gums but also maximizes airflow and keeps your jaw in proper alignment. In addition, the mouthguard is specially designed to support your skeletal, respiratory, and physiological performance while you play.
Dr. Alhadef is one of only 30 dentists in North America who are Px3-certified and is the only dentist in North Texas with this qualification. This is a critical piece of safety equipment that allows you to give your all on the field or court, with the assurance that your oral health is protected at every turn.
Learn more about our dental services.
If you experience a dental injury, then it’s important to know exactly who to call. Time is of the essence and prompt treatment could improve your outcome and help you heal faster.
We offer a range of general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry services, and we’re here when you need us. In addition to in-person visits, we also offer on-demand video consultations. Reach out to our team to schedule an appointment!