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Dental Emergencies: Traumatic Dental Injuries

Traumatic Dental Injuries

Whether due to sports injuries or other types of accidents, most dental injuries are relatively minor (such as chipped teeth). Even though less frequent, more severe injuries that can cause a tooth to be dislodged or completely broken can be quite serious and require immediate examination by dentist or endodontist. Treatment options will depend on the type of the injury as well as the location of the injury and during the dental examination the surrounding teeth need to be examined to determine if there has been any unnoticed peripheral injuries to those teeth.

Here are some of the more common traumatic tooth injuries:

  1. Chipped or fractured teeth:

    If a crown on one of your teeth have been chipped or fractured, chances are a reattaching the broken piece or adding some tooth-colored filling in its place. If the damage to the crown is more significant then an artificial crown (otherwise known as a cap) may be necessary. In more severe cases where so much of the crown has been broken off that the pulp of the tooth is exposed, root canal treatment may be necessary. No matter how much pain you may be in, never use topical oral pain medication or ointments or place other pain medications such as Aspirin on the affected areas. If breathing through your mouth or drinking cold fluids is painful, bite on clean, moist gauze or cloth to help relieve symptoms until reaching your dentist’s office.

  2. Dislodged Teeth:

    For teeth that have been dislodged root canal therapy may be necessary for permanent teeth. For children under 12 years old root canal therapy is less likely to be needed since their teeth are still developing. As part of the root canal therapy, medication may be inserted into the tooth. Once the more urgent aspects of the trauma have been addressed via the root canal therapy, a permanent root canal filling or crown will be put in place later.

  3. Knocked-Out Tooth:

    If one of your teeth has been completely knocked out of your mouth there are a number of very important things you need to keep in mind. First, time is of the essence! If at all possible, get to a dentist or endodontist within 30 minutes of the occurrence of the injury as your tooth may be saved. In handing the knocked out tooth, do so very carefully and do not touch the surface of the root! There a number of procedures including the examination of the place of the trauma to determine if there has been an additional trauma to the surrounding teeth or facial structures. Just remember, keep the tooth (especially the surface of the root of the tooth) as clean as possible until you reach a dentist or endodontist and time is of the essence!

  4. Root Fractures:

    A traumatic event can cause the root of your tooth to develop a horizontal fracture. Depending on the location of the fracture, the tooth may have a relatively good chance of recovery with little treatment while fractures closer to the gum line can be debilitating and require treatments such as stabilization with a splint while the tooth heals.


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Maryam Haeri