What Happens When You’ve Damaged a Tooth
Although your teeth are made to last a lifetime, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be injured. Dental trauma can occur at any time, with a knocked-out tooth, a chipped, cracked or fractured tooth. Here are several types of tooth trauma and their potential treatments.
Knocked Out Tooth
Sports injuries, falls and accidents account for the majority of reasons a tooth may be knocked out or avulsed. This is one of the most serious tooth injuries and you should contact your dentist immediately.
If you can locate the tooth, pick it up without touching the root if possible. If it is dirty, rinse it with milk—not water—and place it back into the tooth socket or hold it in the mouth between your gums and cheek as quickly as possible. Do not wipe it off with a towel or cloth; this can damage the root. If you cannot place it back into the mouth, put the tooth into a glass of milk—not water—to transport it to the dentist.
Your dentist will attempt to replace the tooth into the socket and splint it to the adjacent teeth to hold it into place. Eventually the root will reattach to the bone. Be wary of any signs of infection as this healing process takes place.
A fractured tooth can be identified in three ways: infraction, and uncomplicated and complicated crown fractures. An infraction is a crack of the enamel without any loss of the tooth structure itself. An uncomplicated crown fracture is a break in the tooth that does not reach the pulp. A complicated crown fracture is a break in the tooth where the pulp is exposed.
For fractured or broken teeth, your dentist will rebuild the tooth to restore it. This may involve a filling or a crown. If severely damaged, the dentist may need to remove the tooth and replace it with a dental implant or bridge.
In most cases the surface of a chipped tooth can be smoothed by your dentist or repaired with a filling. If the chip is larger and occurs on a front tooth, the dentist may use a procedure called bonding through which a tooth-color resin is bonded to the tooth. In addition, porcelain veneers are an option for front teeth chips.
Fractured Root A root fracture occurs when the tooth is broken off in the lower third of the tooth, nearest the root. Since this may leave the crown intact, a root fracture is most often identified through x-ray images. Treatment options can include splinting the tooth to encourage it to heal, or extraction and replacement by a dental implant or bridge.
Supporting Structure Injury
The structures that support your teeth and your facial skeleton include your jaw and gums. For facial injuries, you should immediately visit your local emergency room. Once stabilized, your dentist can begin the process of restoring your dental structures.
Soft Tissue Injuries
With facial injuries, the soft tissue including the gums, lips, tongue and skin can be damaged. A tooth or foreign body may become imbedded in or a tooth or other object may perforate the soft tissues, or lacerations of the soft tissues may occur. Damage will be assessed through visual and x-ray inspection and a treatment plan will be outlined.
Have You Damaged a Tooth?
If you have broken, injured or damaged a tooth or have experienced facial trauma, and live in the Northern Virginia area, please contact Advanced Family Dentistry immediately at 703-390-9191. In most cases, the faster you see us for treatment, the better your outcome.
Dr. Sonny Kim is an expert at restorative and cosmetic dentistry, and a progressive oral surgeon, in addition to providing general dentistry services for every member of your family. Contact us today.