Dental Trauma

Mild to Moderate Dental Trauma

Chipped, broken, and fractured teeth are some of the most common dental emergencies. From biting on an almond to sustaining a blow to the face, there are a myriad of ways dental trauma occurs. Thirty-three percent of adults have experienced some type of dental trauma and 25% of children. Proper diagnosis and management is essential in order to effectively treat and maintain traumatized teeth.

When do I need to see my dentist?

In most cases of dental trauma, seeking care from a dentist as soon as possible is advisable. If you notice that your bite feels off or the tooth is mobile, it is especially important to seek care as quickly as possible as these may be signs of a jaw fracture or more serious injury. Typically, some amount of discomfort is present. The tooth may be sensitive to hot, cold, tapping, or chewing. However, even in the absence of pain, all fractured teeth should be evaluated in order to prevent cracks from propagating further and to prevent discomfort from arising. If you have the fractured piece of tooth, bring it with you!

Once you get to your dentist, they will start by taking a thorough history of how and when the dental injury or tooth fracture occurred. They will then perform a clinical exam and take several x-rays at different angles to evaluate the tooth for cracks. Once a diagnosis is made, treatment can begin.

Treatment

Treatment depends on a variety of different factors which is why the clinical and radiographic exam is so important! If the tooth has simply been displaced, a splint can be used for several weeks in order to stabilize the tooth and allow for healing. If a portion of the tooth is fractured, treatment depends on how close the fracture is to the nerve of the tooth. If it is just a chip in the enamel or softer dentin of the tooth, a composite, crown or veneer is often all that is needed to restore the tooth to its form and function. However, if the nerve of the tooth is exposed, a root canal is indicated in order to prevent infection from spreading from the exposed area of the nerve and deeper into the tooth.  In some cases, the fracture may be so significant that the tooth cannot be saved. In this situation, extraction and replacement might be the best treatment option. Additionally, mouth rinses and antibiotics may be prescribed as an adjunct to dental treatment.

Follow-Up!

Once the initial treatment has begun for your traumatic dental injury, keeping your follow-up appointments is essential! In order to ensure the most favorable prognosis, your dentist may want to see you every few weeks initially, and then every few months in order to monitor the healing progress. It is also important to carefully follow any instructions given by your dentist (i.e. avoiding contact sports, maintaining a soft diet, etc.).

As always, prevention is key! Use of mouth guards, face cages, and helmets can greatly reduce your risk of dental trauma. We understand that accidents happen and are here to help you manage them!

 

Author
Dr. Lauren Liebman

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