Dental trauma: what is it and how do you treat it?

If you’ve been involved in an accident, you might have suffered dental trauma. Knowing what to do can help save your smile…

what is dental trauma Notting Hill dentist Number 18 Dental

Trauma doesn’t just affect the mind, it can also leave its imprint on you physically.

Dental trauma is the name given to injuries affecting the teeth, and they usually occur following an accident or a heavy impact while playing sports. But even innocuous bad habits like biting your nails or twisting off a bottle cap with your teeth is enough to land you with dental trauma.

What are the effects of dental trauma?

Trauma to the teeth usually results in a chipped tooth or enamel. More serious injuries can result in a fracture which may extend down into the dental pulp. This could kill the nerve and eventually cause your tooth to die. The good news is it may not need to be removed, but it could begin to discolour.

If dental trauma is caused by an accident, it’s more likely to affect your upper central incisors. For more violent collisions, you might find your tooth is displaced or even knocked out altogether.

It’s important you seek emergency dental help as soon as you damage a tooth so that you have the best chance of saving it and reducing any pain.

Treatment for dental trauma

Treatment depends on the different kinds of injury sustained and may also encompass neighbouring teeth which could have been damaged by the impact.

If you have a chipped tooth, you might feel a little discomfort for a few days but find that the damage isn’t noticeable and doesn’t require any work at all. If a chip is prominent but there is no damage to the pulp or structural integrity of your tooth, a veneer may be enough to restore your confidence.

For broken or fractured teeth, you might require a crown, as well as a root canal if the pulp is damaged or left exposed. This can help save the base of your natural tooth without the need for extraction.

Teeth that have been displaced so that they have been pushed sideways or out of their socket are a little more difficult to remedy. However, they can usually be treated with root canal treatment as well as a crown to help reposition them.

If your tooth was knocked out, a dentist may be able to reaffix it. If this isn’t possible, they will be able to discuss replacement teeth such as bridges or implants.

What to do if your tooth was knocked out?

You’ll need to act fast.

Locate the tooth and make sure it is a permanent tooth (milk teeth cannot be reattached). It’s important you pick it up by the crown (the white outer); if you touch the root you risk damaging the sensitive inner which is crucial to trying to save the tooth.

You can wash it briefly (for no longer than ten seconds) using running cold water or milk.

Phone an emergency dentist and try to place the tooth back into the gap, pressing down on it. If this doesn’t work, you can carry it in the mouth, resting it between your teeth and cheek. Alternatively, place it in a bowl of milk.

Preventing dental trauma

  • The best way to prevent dental trauma is to be safe! That means wearing a seatbelt while in the car and helmets during activities which pose a risk of injury such as skateboarding and cycling.
  • If you take part in contact sports such as rugby, martial arts and boxing, ensure you wear a properly fitting face shield and/or mouth guard. A dentist can have a mouth guard made up for you.
  • It’s also a good idea to maintain a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium and vitamin D which support strong teeth and bones.
  • Avoid biting down on anything that isn’t food, such as nails, bottle tops and pens. These alone can cause trauma to the teeth without the need for an accident.

If you have suffered an injury or accident that has damaged your teeth, ensure you book an emergency dental appointment as soon as possible. At Number 18 Dental, we can ensure you have the best chance of saving your tooth and having a smile to be proud of.

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