Dental trauma is common, and needs to be treated immediately by an emergency dentist. Here’s what you need to know about this common injury.
What is dental trauma?
Dental trauma means that your teeth have been suddenly damaged. Mild cases of dental trauma may involve a chipped tooth, while more serious cases will involve knocked out teeth. Your teeth can also be cracked or broken in half.
Why is it an emergency?
Dental trauma is an emergency that needs to be treated promptly. Injuries to the teeth will often expose the pulp, the sensitive inner part of the tooth. This pulp can easily become infected when it is exposed, and this infection can spread to the root of your tooth, causing an abscess.
Abscesses are a serious problem, and can put you in the hospital. When left untreated, the infection spreads to your blood, causing a serious condition called sepsis. It can also spread to your brain or lungs, causing serious problems, such as a brain abscess or pneumonia.
If you visit the dentist right after your injury, you won’t have to deal with life-threatening problems later on.
How does dental trauma occur?
Dental trauma happens in many different ways, but the most common cause is sports. According to the American Dental Association, up to 39% of dental injuries occurred during sports. Contact sports such as football and soccer are more dangerous than non-contact sports.
Car accidents are another common way that dental trauma happens. Falling down the stairs or falling off your bike can also do a lot of damage to your teeth, if you’re unlucky enough to fall on your face. A less common cause of dental trauma is getting punched or kicked in the face.
How can it be prevented?
Some types of dental trauma are easier to prevent than others. Sports injuries can be easily prevented, but injuries from car accidents, falls, or fights are nearly impossible to prevent.
When playing sports, always wear a mouth guard. Many athletes don’t wear mouth guards, even for contact sports, and this bad habit is putting them at risk of serious dental trauma. About 75% of football players wear mouth guards, while only 7% of soccer or baseball players do.
You should wear a mouth guard while participating in non-contact sports, too. Bicycling, skate boarding, and weight lifting may seem safe, but it’s still possible to damage your teeth during those activities. The American Dental Association recommends mouth guard use during those three sports, as well as during surfing and skiing.
How is it treated?
The treatment method will vary, depending on the exact injury that you have. Your dentist may be able to seal a cracked tooth, or place a crown on a chipped tooth. These treatments are minimally invasive.
Major injuries will require more invasive treatment. If your tooth is broken in half, you will need to have a root canal to remove the exposed pulp. You may even need to have the tooth pulled out, if the dentist can’t save it.
If your tooth has been knocked out, the dentist may be able to reattach it, but this isn’t always possible. If the tooth can’t be reattached, it will have to be replaced with a dental implant or a bridge at a later appointment.
Dental trauma may be common, but it’s still an emergency. If you crack, chip, break, or knock out one of your teeth, you need to visit your dentist immediately, or you could suffer from more serious problems. In many cases, the dentist will be able to save your tooth, but only if you seek treatment quickly. Find out here how to find the right dentist for your situation.