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What Is a Traumatic Dental Injury?

June 5, 2021
a woman holds her jaw and grimaces

Endodontists specialize in saving natural teeth, which is why an endodontic practice should be your first call after a traumatic dental injury. While accidents or sports-related trauma are common causes of these dental injuries, they can also be the result of biting into something hard, teeth grinding during sleep, or an oral habit like chewing ice. A traumatic dental injury can be something as minor as a chipped tooth or as serious as a tooth that has been completely knocked out.

Regardless of how serious your injury is, it is important to see an endodontist as soon as possible for an evaluation. After any initial or follow-up examinations, treatment will be tailored to the type of dental trauma you have suffered and the severity of your injury.

Traumatic dental injuries include:

Teeth That Have Been Dislodged (Luxated)

A tooth may be pushed sideways, out of, or up into its socket as a result of a traumatic dental injury. In such cases, your tooth will be repositioned and stabilized by your endodontist or general dentist. If irreversible damage to the nerve, root, or blood vessels is discovered, a root canal procedure will likely be recommended to avoid tooth discoloration or abscess. This should be scheduled as soon as possible after the initial dental trauma.

Since their permanent teeth are still developing, children aged 12 and under may need special management and treatment. Your child’s endodontist will keep a close eye on the healing process and intervene promptly if any concerning changes occur. A number of follow-up visits may be needed in such situations.

Teeth That Have Been Knocked Out (Avulsed)

See an endodontist or dentist right away if one of your teeth is knocked out of the socket completely. Timely care is critical; if you get treated right away, your endodontist might be able to save your tooth.

When a tooth becomes avulsed or knocked out, place it back in the socket immediately and call an endodontist. If you are unable to reposition the tooth in the socket, put it in a cup of milk and bring it to our office. Do not try to clean the tooth by scrubbing or wiping it clean. To prevent additional tooth damage, avoid touching the root surface. 

Your endodontist will inspect the tooth, replace it in its socket, and evaluate you for any other dental and facial injuries. For the next few weeks, a stabilizing splint may be used to secure your tooth in place while the periodontal tissue heals around it. Root canal treatment can begin a week or two later, depending on the stage of root development. Proper pre-operative care and prompt endodontic treatment means there is a good chance your tooth can be saved.

Teeth That Are Fractured or Chipped

If your tooth has been chipped or fractured, it can usually be restored with a dental crown or other type of restoration from a general dentist or prosthodontist. That said, if a large portion of your tooth has been broken off due to trauma, a root canal will be needed if the pulp is exposed or damaged. Traumatic dental injuries may also result in several teeth being affected, even if they appear intact upon visual inspection. When you see an endodontist for your care, they will use advanced equipment to examine adjacent teeth to ensure that they have not suffered any injuries.

Schedule a Consultation for a Traumatic Dental Injury

We take the time to carefully analyze all of a patient’s potential risk factors at North Shore & Brookline Endodontics. To determine the best course of treatment, we use 3D imaging CBCT scans and clinical microscopic examinations, as appropriate.

If you have experienced a traumatic dental injury, contact us today to schedule an appointment for emergency endodontic care at one of our six North Shore & Boston-area locations.

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