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Traumatic Dental Injuries in Permanent Teeth

Traumatic dental injuries often occur in accidents or sports-related injuries and usually involve the front teeth of the upper jaw.  The majority of all dental injuries are chipped teeth.  Not as common, but more severe, are displaced or knocked out teeth. Treatment depends on the type, location and extent of each injury. If you have a cracked or injured tooth, contact your dentist right away.

Management and Treatment

Chipped or Fractured Teeth

Most chipped or fractured teeth can be repaired either by reattaching the broken piece or by placing a tooth-colored filling. If a significant portion of the tooth is broken off, a crown may be needed to restore the tooth.

If the soft tissue inside the tooth, called the pulp, is damaged, root canal treatment may be needed. In these cases, the teeth can be quite painful.  Root canal therapy removes the pulp, including the nerve and blood vessels, and alleviates the pain.

Displaced Teeth

During an injury, a tooth may be pushed sideways, out of or into its socket and become loose.  Your dentist will reposition and stabilize your tooth. Root canal treatment is frequently needed for permanent teeth that have been displaced. Medication may be put inside the tooth temporarily as part of the root canal treatment. A permanent filling is placed at a later date.

Children between six and 12 years old may not need root canal treatment since their permanent teeth are still developing. Typically for those patients, an endodontist, who is a root canal specialist, will monitor the healing carefully over time and intercede should any adverse changes develop. Tissue in the pulps of young people can be stimulated by certain medications to complete root growth and heal the pulp following injuries.

Knocked-Out (Avulsed) Teeth

If a tooth is completely knocked out of your mouth, see a Cary NC restorative dentist immediately.  The prognosis for avulsed teeth is highly dependent on actions taken at the place of the accident and promptly after the avulsion.

Your dentist will carefully evaluate the tooth and place it back in its socket if it conditions are optimal. A flexible splint will be placed for a few weeks to stabilize the tooth. Depending on the stage of root development, your dentist or endodontist may start root canal treatment 7-10 days later. A medication may be placed inside the tooth temporarily followed by a permanent root canal filling at a later date. The length of time the tooth was out of the mouth and the way the tooth was stored before reaching the dentist influence the chances of saving the tooth.

Root Fractures

A traumatic injury to the tooth may also result in a horizontal root fracture. The location of the fracture determines the long-term health of the tooth. Fractures closer to the root tip have a better long term prognosis than fractures closer to the gum line.

Follow up

Following the injury, you should return to your dentist to have the tooth examined at regular intervals.  This will ensure continued healing and that no complications develop, such as resorption, a condition where your body rejects your own tooth, causing the root to dissolve.

If you think you dental injury is a result of someone else’s negligence, contact a personal injury lawyer today

allianceThanks to our friends and contributors from Alliance Dentistry for their insight into traumatic dental injuries.

About the Author

Steve Harrelson
Steve Harrelson

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