Dental trauma can be a scary and painful situation. Some oral injuries may require immediate attention, while others can wait until normal business hours. Knowing what to do when you experience dental trauma can make the difference between saving and losing a tooth.
Dental trauma is most common for younger people. Trauma can occur as the result of sports injuries, fights, accidental falls, and motor vehicle accidents.
At Clackamas Implant & Oral Surgery Center, we offer a wide-variety of surgical solutions designed to repair maxillofacial trauma. Brett Sullivan, DMD, MD is a highly-skilled surgeon who is trained to treat damaged or knocked-out teeth, soft tissue damage, and injury to the facial bones and jaw. Regardless of which type of dental trauma you experience, be sure to consult with us immediately to determine if treatment is necessary.
What Constitutes a Dental Emergency?
Some of the most common types of oral injuries include broken, chipped, cracked, or knocked-out teeth. If a tooth has been knocked out, you should seek immediate medical attention. Depending on the location and severity of the injury, a cracked or chipped tooth may not constitute a dental emergency. In some cases, it may not be immediately apparent that you have a dental emergency. Regardless of doubt, be sure to contact us so we can determine if treatment is crucial. If you are having trouble reaching us, seek medical attention elsewhere. The staff at an urgent care clinic or emergency room can alleviate symptoms and help determine whether your injury can wait.
Chipped or Cracked Teeth
Immediate treatment is usually not required if the chip is small and there is no pain. It is up to you how and when the tooth should be treated. Most patients choose to fix chipped teeth for cosmetic reasons. Depending on the size of the chip, we may recommend dental bonding. During the bonding process, composite resin is used to restore the shape of a tooth. Composite resin is a putty-like substance, colored and textured to match the rest of your enamel. Other options include porcelain veneers and dental crowns.
A cracked or fractured tooth can also pose a risk to your dental health. If the crack begins at the crown and extends downward, you may experience sharp pain when you bite down, inconsistent tooth pain, pain while eating or drinking, and the loss of a section of your enamel. The last symptom can lead to the exposure of your dentin and pulp. If this happens to you, be sure to seek treatment as soon as possible. We specialize in oral surgery and deal with avulsed or knocked out teeth.
In some cases, the trauma may not be visible. A fractured root can lead to an infection of the dental pulp and require the expertise of an endodontist—someone who specializes in root canal therapy. If the tooth is beyond saving, then extraction will be necessary. Luckily, we offer dental implants, the gold standard of tooth replacement treatment.
Tooth intrusion occurs when a tooth is driven below the gum tissue and back into the jawbone. This type of trauma is more common for primary teeth; however, it can also happen to permanent ones. Intrusion can lead to the destruction of tooth pulp, root resorption, and ankyloses (the fusion of the root to the alveolar bone). The alveolar bone is the supportive ridge that holds your teeth in place. Depending on the severity, an intruded tooth may need to be repositioned surgically.
If you lose a tooth as the result of trauma, you should make an emergency appointment with us immediately. We also work with local hospitals to deliver emergency treatment. The key to saving a knocked-out tooth is re-implanting it into the socket as soon as possible. In the meantime, be sure to take the following steps:
||Handle the tooth by the crown, not the root. Handling the root can diminish your chances of successful reattachment.
||Gently rinse the tooth with water. Never scrub off any tissue or other organic matter.
||If possible, place the tooth back into the socket or another area of your mouth. If not, you can store the tooth in a glass of milk, saliva, or salt water. Keeping the tooth moist is essential.
In some cases, putting a tooth back in place can be relatively simple. Other times, you may need surgical intervention, especially if the supportive bone is broken. In any case, the tooth will have to be held in place for several days. If the supportive bone is healthy, your tooth should reattach in roughly three or four weeks. If the bone is damaged, it will require more time.
Soft Tissue Damage
Soft tissue damage that requires surgical intervention, usually involves lacerations, most commonly of the lips and the gingiva (gums). Other common areas include the buccal, mucosa, frenulum, and tongue. When repairing these types of lacerations, our goal is to prevent damage to the salivary glands, salivary ducts, facial nerves, and facial appearance. We also want to eliminate the presence of foreign objects in the wound.
When repairing lacerations, many patients are concerned with cosmetics. Our surgical team implements techniques that reduce scar tissue and provide impressive cosmetic results. We try to minimize the number of sutures, and, whenever possible, we place incisions so that the resulting scar is “hidden.”
Injury to the Supporting Bone and Jaw
Injuries to the supportive (alveolar) bone include fractures to the socket walls, segmental fractures, fractures of the maxilla, and fractures of the mandible. Treatment of these injuries depends on the location and severity of the fracture. The goal is to stabilize the bones in the face. Much like other bones in the body, the fracture should be held together for a period to enable the healing process. One option for stabilization involves wiring the jaws together. Other types of fractures can be treated by the surgical placement of small metal screws. The screws keep the fracture held together during the healing process. This technique is known as rigid fixation. Many times, rigid fixation is less invasive and eliminates the need to wire shut a jaw. It can also educe the recovery time drastically.
If you have experienced dental trauma, call (503) 662-8744 now!