Researchers estimate that dental trauma affects 4.5% of the global population. These traumatic dental injuries occur in one in three children and about a fifth of adults.
Physical tooth trauma, in turn, is one of the most common forms of such dental injuries. In many cases, they can cause symptoms severe enough to warrant emergency dental care.
This guide lists the signs of traumatic tooth injuries that require emergency care, so be sure to read on.
The Entire Visible Part of the Tooth Broke Off
According to studies, about two in three cases of dental trauma result from falls. Other causes of such injuries include sports, cycling, and motor vehicle accidents.
Those incidents can deliver a blow to the mouth severe enough to knock out an entire tooth. Oral healthcare professionals refer to knocked-out teeth as avulsed teeth or tooth avulsion.
If you have a knocked-out tooth, use a clean piece of cloth to pick it up by its crown (the top-most area). If you have medical or surgical gloves around, don a pair or use them to pick up the fallen tooth. What’s important is not compromising the tooth by picking it up by its roots (the lowest part).
You want to take all those precautions as you may still be able to save your knocked-out tooth.
In some cases, dentists can replace an avulsed tooth if they treat it in 30 minutes from the time it got knocked out. However, they may still be able to save knocked-out teeth that’s been outside of the mouth for an hour or so. For the best chances of success, though, seek emergency dental care right away.
A Huge Portion of Your Tooth Chipped Off
Many other cases of dental trauma cause only a portion of the affected tooth to break or crack. However, the affected teeth may still split or separate. One or more sections may also break and fall off.
If any of those happened to you, it’s best to go to an emergency dentist near you right away. One reason is that you may have a serious fracture exposing the sensitive parts of a chipped tooth. Bacteria can then attack these areas, putting you at risk of infections.
You Have a Displaced Tooth
Physical trauma to the mouth can displace a tooth and make it sink deeper into its socket. In other cases, the displacement may cause the affected tooth to hang loosely out of its socket. A severe blow may also push one or more of your teeth to either side.
As with an avulsed or broken tooth, an emergency dentist may still save a displaced tooth. You’d want to visit their office right away, though, to help cut your risks of needing a tooth extraction.
Your Gums Have Heavy or Non-Stop Bleeding
Dental trauma may not always cause chips or avulsion, but it can damage the tooth’s blood vessels. It may also be severe enough to lacerate or cut the gums. In either case, you may experience heavy or continuous bleeding.
Visit an emergency dentist if you have these symptoms, even if you didn’t knock out a tooth. Your gums may have sustained severe cuts that might require stitches.
You Have Severe Gum Swelling
A blow to the teeth may not be enough to displace them, but it can make your teeth cut into your gums. In some cases, this can lead to the gums bleeding for a bit and subsiding soon after. However, the injury may be deep enough to cause severe gum inflammation.
If your gums swell so much, it may show through your face and give your cheeks a swollen appearance, too. More than that, it can cause pain and, if left untreated, can result in gum infections.
Note that the mouth houses about 700 species of microbes, such as germs, bacteria, and fungi. While not all are pathogenic, some of them are, and they can slip inside the cuts in your gums. They can then invade the deepest part of the soft tissues and even make their way to the jawbone.
That’s also how untreated gum injuries can ultimately lead to tooth loss. Besides, gum infections are painful as-is and can make your face look bloated. All that should be enough reason to visit an emergency dentist right after dental trauma.
You Have Tooth Pain or Sensitivity
A toothache or tooth sensitivity can occur as a result of nerve or blood vessel irritation. These nerves and blood vessels, in turn, run inside the dental pulp, which the dentin covers. The enamel then goes on the very top of the tooth, making up its visible clinical crown.
The enamel, comprised of 96% mineral, is the hardest substance in the body and is even stronger than bone. That’s why sometimes, a broken tooth may only look like a superficial hairline crack.
However, the fracture, despite its thin appearance, may have extended beyond the enamel. The injury may have reached the dentin or even the pulp. This may then result in sensitivity or pain.
Those unpleasant sensations can arise if you eat hot, cold, sweet, salty, or sour food and drinks. You may also experience them whenever you use the injured tooth to chew or bite. Sometimes, even just normal vibrations caused by mouth activities can trigger the pain.
It’s important to seek emergency dental care in such cases because you might have a deep tooth injury. Even if it’s only a tiny crack, bacteria can infiltrate it and wreak more havoc on the injured tooth. If this happens, you’re likely to develop infections, which can cause even more pain.
Emergency Care for Tooth Trauma Can Save Your Pearly Whites
Always keep in mind that untreated tooth trauma can cause permanent tooth loss. Worse, once you lose a natural tooth, you can only replace it with artificial teeth that can cost even more money.
That’s why it’s best to go to an emergency dentist as soon as you experience dental trauma. This way, the dental team can do what they can to save your teeth right away.
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