Dental trauma refers to an injury to the teeth, gums, alveolar bone, and the soft tissues of the mouth, like the cheeks, lips, and tongue. According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, athletes who don't wear protective mouthguards during games are 60 times more likely to suffer trauma to their teeth.
If you have experienced dental trauma, you should consult Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Ardoin at Oral and Facial Surgery Center immediately.
Common Types of Dental Injuries
Some of the most common types of dental trauma are described below:
Fractured or cracked teeth should be fixed as soon as possible to prevent the damage from spreading. A cracked tooth involves a split that begins at the crown and extends downwards towards the root. Many times a cracked tooth is not visible to the naked eye, though it can cause symptoms like pain while chewing or when the tooth comes in contact with hot and cold substances. Sometimes the pain is persistent. In severe cases, you can lose a portion of your outer enamel, revealing the dentin, pulp, and even the root surface.
We can determine whether your injured tooth can be saved with root canal treatment or should be extracted.
Sometimes, a cracked tooth shows no symptoms at all and can only be detected at a regular dental checkup, which is why it is so important to keep such appointments.
A tooth that has been knocked loose out of the socket is called an avulsed tooth. If this happens to you, pick up the tooth from its crown, never the roots. Then, place it in a plastic bag filled with a saline solution or whole milk, so that it doesn't dry out. An avulsed tooth can be reimplanted back into the socket 30 minutes to 2 hours after it has been knocked out. After this, it has a poor chance of survival. If your avulsed tooth is successfully reimplanted, you may need to get a root canal therapy done one or two weeks after the tooth becomes stable.
A luxated tooth is one which becomes loose due to trauma but has not been completely knocked out. This tooth can wiggle sideways, forwards and backward. It would help if you tried to gently ease the tooth back into its original position and then come to us for the final treatment.
Dental trauma may not just impact the visible portion of your tooth, but can also impact the tooth root. A fractured root involves a crack starting from the tooth root and traveling up towards the crown. Since root fractures are hidden, you may not know about them until after infection develops. Fractured roots need to be treated with root canal treatment as soon as possible to prevent necrosis, which can result in tooth loss.
Sometimes, instead of a being knocked out, the tooth is driven back into the jawbone. This type of trauma is called tooth intrusion and is seen in rare cases involving permanent teeth. It is more common in baby teeth because a child's alveolar bone is not as hard as an adult's.
Tooth intrusion can damage the tooth pulp beyond recovery, can result in shortening of the roots or roots resorption, or ankylosis, the fusion of the injured root to the alveolar bone. For baby teeth, treatment of tooth intrusion is extraction. For adult teeth, root canal therapy can help save the tooth.
If you suspect you have a broken jaw, do not try to move it. Instead, bind it securely by wrapping a towel or a handkerchief around the jaw and over the top of the head. You can also apply a cold compress to the jaw to reduce swelling. Contact us immediately for emergency treatment.
Severe dental trauma has the potential to cause long-term damaging effects, but only if they are not treated promptly. If you have experienced an injury to your mouth or jaw, call us at 337-443-2533 for our Lafayette location or 337-381-3663 for our Opelousas location immediately.