While some of the most common cases of tooth trauma involve toddlers falling and adolescents playing contact sports, the condition can occur at any age. Tooth trauma, which involves an impact injury to your tooth or oral tissue, affects about one-third of children and toddlers and one-fifth of adolescents and adults annually.
Tooth trauma can occur as the result of a car accident, sports injury, biting down on hard food, a slip-and-fall injury, or even using your teeth as tools. When tooth trauma occurs without life-threatening injuries, the primary purpose of care involves trying to save the injured tooth. You have the best chance of accomplishing this if you seek dental care as soon as possible after the incident.
Traumatic dental injuries specialist Robert Scott Nance, DDS, MS, PA, and his team of dental professionals provide expert tooth trauma care for patients in Statesville and Hickory, North Carolina. Dr. Nance and his staff have the experience and expertise necessary to diagnose and treat your problem quickly to ensure that you achieve the best possible results.
Find out more about the types of tooth trauma that can occur and why getting immediate and expert care can make a difference in your oral health.
A cracked tooth can occur in different ways. Less intense impact may produce longitudinal cracks or scoring lines in the enamel called “craze lines.” While not likely to interfere with dental health, this may require cosmetic repair if it affects one of your front teeth.
In many cases, a cracked tooth involves a split that begins at the top of the tooth (the crown) and extends into the tooth. You may have a cracked tooth without pain. However, a cracked tooth can also cause pain when you bite down, intermittent pain, or pain while eating and drinking hot or cold foods.
A crack in your tooth is likely to spread and worsen, exposing the dentin and the pulp beneath it. The pulp contains your tooth’s nerves and blood vessels, which are vital to the tooth’s survival.
When the crack extends into the pulp, it can make the pulp susceptible to infection. Dr. Nance may recommend a root canal, a form of endodontic therapy that cleans and seals the canals inside a tooth’s root, to save your cracked tooth.
Chipped or broken teeth
Breaking even a small, unnoticeable portion of a tooth can interfere with normal speaking and eating. Depending on the shape of a chip or break, it can also cause pain when it rubs against your cheek or gum.
If your tooth becomes chipped or broken from an accident or trauma, it’s important to try to locate the tooth broken tooth fragment. Depending on the type of break that occurred and the condition of your teeth, Dr. Nance may be able to reattach the fragment back into place.
In cases where there is extensive damage, Dr. Nance may recommend repairing the tooth with bonding, in which a composite bonding material is molded over the chipped area to correct it. Depending on the extent of the damage, Dr. Nance may instead advise veneers, crowns, or dental implants to restore normal function and appearance after a chipped or broken tooth.
Avulsed or luxated tooth
Some types of impact can be so strong or intense that they knock out your entire tooth, resulting in an avulsed tooth. In some cases, the tooth isn’t entirely removed but it is dislocated, or luxated, so that it’s pushed out of the normal position or forced in the socket.
These cases require immediate treatment to give you the best chance of saving your injured tooth. Depending on the type of damage that occurred, Dr. Nance may be able to re-implant the tooth with a splint until the bone attaches to the root.
If the tooth is knocked out, handle the loose tooth by touching the top, not the root. Rinse the tooth in clean water or milk and hold it in its empty socket. Keep it there until you reach the office or Dr. Nance advises other instructions. If you can’t hold it in the socket because of pain, store the tooth in milk or an emergency tooth preservation kit like Save-a-Tooth®.
If your tooth is still attached to the socket, you should hold it in its proper position until you can get treatment.
Having a tooth knocked out of its socket can cause irreparable damage to the supporting tissue, nerves, and blood vessels that keep the tooth healthy. When this occurs, your tooth’s nerve tissue and pulp break down and mix with bacteria to cause an infection. However, you may be able to retain your natural tooth and prevent damage from infection with a root canal.
If you or your child has experienced tooth trauma, call our Statesville of Hickory office today. In many cases. Dr. Nance can provide same-day treatment, which can provide the best chance of saving a damaged tooth.