Dental implant FAQs

Dental Injury Treatment

Dental injury is surprisingly common. The majority of accidents with teeth involve either:

  • avulsion (knocking out)
  • subluxation (loosening)
  • fracturing

Incidents can also involve orofacial injury, the most common of which is soft tissue laceration.

Many sports and contact activities are known to significantly increase chance of injury, however most are preventable through use of proper protective equipment.

If you ever receive a dental injury, you may have symptoms – visible or invisible – that require an investigation by your hospital or GP, using radiographs or a CT scan, for example. However, most common dental injuries would be treated in the following ways:

Loose or dislodged teeth

Sometimes during injury a tooth may be forced aside and pushed into or out of its socket. In these cases, your dentist or endodontist will attempt to reposition and stabilise the tooth.

Root canal treatment is often required where permanent teeth have been dislodged, to be started within a few days of injury. This process may involve placement of calcium hydroxide medication inside the tooth in advance of a permanent root canal filling.

Children may not require root canal treatment if they are between seven and twelve years old as their teeth are still in development. In these cases, the dentist will monitor the injury carefully during the healing process for any need of intervention. Multiple appointments are likely to be needed as the area is watched for any unfavourable changes.

Sometimes when a tooth is loose your dentist may suggest a solution known as ‘splinting’. This involves a splint – often made of plastic – being placed on the loose tooth and the healthy teeth to each side. The splint is usually kept in place using dental cement or wires attached to the nearby teeth, helping to stabilise the loose tooth over one to weeks of wearing it.

Chipped teeth

If part of your tooth has become broken off, your dentist will begin by examining your mouth and removing any leftover fragments of tooth from the area. Once the area is cleaned, you may require some dissolvable stitches.

Most chipped teeth will have their edge smoothed by the dentist before being fit with a tooth-coloured filling. If a more significant chunk has broken off, then an artificial “cap” may be needed in order to restore the tooth’s appearance.

However, if the blood vessels and tissue inside the tooth have been affected you may require root canal treatment. If drinking cold fluids causes pain or breathing through your mouth is painful, you should seek medical attention. Try not to use oral pain medications, ointments or painkillers directly applied to the area. Instead try to bite down on a clean, moist cloth or gauze to relieve symptoms while you seek urgent dental care.

Knocked out or avulsed teeth

When a tooth is completely knocked out it’s important to act quickly. Ideally, replantation of a knocked out tooth should happen within 5 to 10 minutes of the incident – diminishing chances are seen after 20 minutes and even worse success rates after an hour.

Handle the avulsed tooth carefully and try to protect the tooth by storing in cold skimmed milk or (if you don’t have milk on hand) saliva, a saline solution or water.

Your dentist will either try to reimplant the tooth, or check for further required work if you’ve attempted to reimplant it yourself. They will also evaluate any other dental or facial injuries you may have sustained.

In most cases, the tooth will be placed back in its socket without incident and held in place with a stabilising splint for a matter of weeks. In some cases, root canal treatment may be required. Medication may be inserted into the tooth in advance of a permanent root canal filling to be completed later.

Root fractures

If the crack in your tooth has led to the root being damaged, root canal treatment (including a covering crown) may be needed to save the tooth. In some cases – such as when the fractured tooth has split in two – your dentist may need to remove the tooth entirely.

Sometimes an injury to the tooth can result in a horizontal root fracture. The closer the fracture is to the gum line, the poorer the chances are for long-term repair. Some horizontal fractures require the installation of a splint for a period of healing time.

The long-term health of your injured tooth will largely be determined by the nature of any injury received, the length of time between the injury and treatment, how the tooth was cared for post-injury as well as your body’s overall response to the incident. In knocked out or dislodged teeth, rapid treatment is of particular importance in order to prevent root resorption. Resorption is the process by which your body begins to reject the injured tooth as a result of the physical trauma. Consequently, most dental injuries should be carefully monitored by your dentist or endodontists at regular intervals for up to five years. However, it should be noted that some types of resorption currently cannot be treated.

In cases where a fractures, missing or broken tooth cannot be satisfactorily restored, a dental implant presents an effective option for a permanent, natural-looking and functional replacement. Learn more about dental implants here.

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