What to Do In Case of Dental Trauma?

Knowing what to do when suffering dental trauma is essential for the affected teeth to have a better prognosis. In this article, we'll tell you how to deal with this situation.
What to Do In Case of Dental Trauma?

Last update: 02 October, 2021

Both children and adults can suffer dental trauma, although childhood and adolescence are the most frequent times when they occur. This type of accident tends to happen when children learn to walk, and during games and sports.

In the event of dental trauma, everyone gets very nervous and nobody knows what to do. Not only in those who suffer it, but also in those who accompany them. But it’s vital to know what to do quickly to control the situation and improve the prognosis of the affected tooth.

Keep reading because in this article we clarify what you should do and what to do if you or someone in your family gets hit in the mouth.

What is dental trauma?

Dental trauma is an injury that occurs to a tooth, the bone, and other supporting tissues due to the action of a blow or physical impact on the area. This affects the aesthetics of the smile, but also the person’s chewing and phonation abilities.

They’re frequent during childhood and adolescence, as a consequence of falls when a child takes their first steps, and they still don’t have enough balance. They’re also caused by blows during play or when practicing certain sports. The most affected teeth are usually the upper incisors, as they’re the most exposed.

The manifestations of trauma in the mouth are different and of different severity. They can occur with fractures of the teeth, the teeth getting moved, the tooth ending up in an abnormal position, or even falling out.

In addition, there may be injuries to the soft tissues of the oral cavity. These may be cut lips, tongues, or cheeks, which are accompanied by a lot of bleeding and inflammation. The most severe cases may involve the bones supporting the teeth. For this reason, the dentist must perform an immediate diagnosis of the whole situation.

Both temporary and permanent teeth may be affected, and further treatment will depend on this. In any case, if the dental trauma involves a baby tooth, there’s no need not to worry. A permanent tooth is forming under its root and it needs to continue to grow healthily.

Consequences of suffering a dental trauma

As we’ve already mentioned, dental trauma can manifest itself in different ways depending on the tissues that are involved. Some of these situations can occur:

  • Fracture of the enamel or dentin: The tooth is broken, but there’s no loss of tooth structure.
  • Tooth mobility: There’s damage to the tissues that support the tooth and it moves within its socket.
  • Fracture of the crown of the tooth: The tooth breaks and loses a segment of the crown. The pulp may be compromised.
  • Alteration of the normal position of the tooth: The tooth can move to one side (dental luxation), towards the inside of the bone (dental intrusion), or towards the outside (dental extrusion).
  • Tooth root fracture: The injury to the tooth extends below the gum line.
  • Expulsion of the tooth out of the mouth: Tooth avulsion.
  • Soft tissue injuries.

All these injuries affect the integrity of the teeth and surrounding tissues. This alters the appearance of the mouth and the way of speaking and eating.

A man boxing
Some sports favor physical contact and trauma to the head region, including the mouth.

Does dental trauma differ between children and adults?

We’ve already mentioned that reactions and the therapeutics after a dental trauma differ if the involved piece is temporary or permanent. In addition, the age of the patient is something important to consider.

Temporary teeth

In children, the most frequent causes are games, sports, and lack of balance when starting to walk. They’re also associated with child abuse. In adults, on the other hand, they’re usually linked to traffic accidents, sports, and falls.

When it affects a baby tooth, dentists should estimate how much time it should stay in the mouth to see if it’s worth keeping it or not. Sometimes it’s a good idea to remove it because the permanent tooth is about to come out.

When the lesion is small, specialists can fix it with aesthetic fillings. But, on some occasions, the treatments are more complex. When the permanent tooth needs more time to come out and a specialist has to remove the milk tooth, or if the tooth fell out in the blow, then it’ll be necessary to maintain the place it occupied with a space maintainer.

In cases where the temporary tooth falls out, it shouldn’t be reimplanted. In the process, it can damage the permanent tooth that’s forming inside the bone.

Permanent teeth

If, on the other hand, the dental trauma occurs in a permanent tooth, the main objective is to keep it in the mouth. In both adults and children, if the tooth comes out of the mouth and they can reimplant it, then they should.

If the accident in a permanent tooth occurs in a child, then the dentist must evaluate if the damage has injured the pulp of a tooth that hasn’t completed its root development yet. In such cases, they require special therapy to help close the root apices.

If, on the other hand, the blow injures a permanent tooth in an adult, the roots are already formed. When there’s damage to the pulp, the specialist must perform root canal treatment. If the tooth can be moved, then the dentist will stabilize the tooth for a certain period of time so that the person won’t lose it.

Tips on how to act in case of dental trauma

When dental trauma occurs, it’s important to know what to do and to act quickly.

That’s why below we tell you how to proceed in case of an accident affecting the oral cavity.

Keep calm

When a blow occurs, it’s a time of tension and discomfort. There’s usually pain, blood, and crying that combine to create a situation of anxiety and nervousness.

Trying to remain calm and taking charge will help you to make the right and necessary decisions. Don’t act anxious or start shouting; it’s essential to keep calm.

Clean the wound and stop the bleeding

The soft tissues of the mouth are very vascularized and that’s why cuts usually produce a lot of bleeding. You should clean the wound carefully with clean water so that the damage can be carefully observed.

It’s important to exert pressure with a clean gauze or cloth on the cuts in order to stop the bleeding. In addition, as we mentioned, a dentist must evaluate the damage caused by seeing whether a piece of the tooth is missing, if a tooth has come out or is moving, or if it’s in the wrong place and can’t be used to bite. In these cases, you must go to the dentist urgently, within an hour if at all possible.

Search for the missing tooth

If the blow caused the tooth to fall out, or a fragment to break off, then you should look for it. When you find it, don’t touch the root area. Wash it for a few seconds under clean water without rubbing it.

After that, place it in a glass with distilled water or warm milk to transport it. If this isn’t possible, the person can carry it in their mouth, under the tongue, taking care not to swallow it.

You should never reimplant a milk tooth in the mouth because it can damage the germ of the permanent one that’s developing in the bone. If you’re sure it’s a permanent tooth, try to relocate the piece and bite a gauze to keep it in place. However, as we said earlier, the best course of action is to go to the dentist immediately, within an hour.

If a tooth has completely come out, the dentist can reimplant it in the socket and immobilize it to wait for it to reintegrate into the oral cavity. If what has been affected is a fragment of the tooth, the professional can try to attach it to the affected piece. They do this using specific techniques and aesthetic and adhesive materials.

Go to the dentist

We’ve already mentioned the importance of seeing a dentist as soon as possible. Acting quickly improves the prognosis of the situation. There are procedures that the dentist can only perform in the first few hours after the blow.

In addition, sometimes there may be no major injuries, but the dentist can detect problems that are imperceptible to the naked eye. A thorough examination and dental x-rays will allow them to evaluate if the roots and bones have been affected. Thus, the dentist is the one who determines the severity of the case, the most appropriate treatments, and the necessary controls.

In the most serious cases, when the blow causes vomiting, loss of consciousness, or disorientation, the person must go immediately to a hospital.

Child at the dentist
A specialist should perform early dental consultation to promote healing and tissue recovery after trauma.

Other tips to keep in mind when suffering a dental traumatism

Other practices can favor the recovery from dental trauma:

  • Soft and cold diet: Eating foods that don’t require too much chewing effort and also cold food helps to reduce inflammation and favors the recovery of damaged tissues. Yogurts, ice creams, custards, and milkshakes are good options.
  • Maintain oral hygiene: Don’t stop cleaning your teeth after a trauma. The accumulation of bacterial plaque could worsen the situation. You should brush gently and the dentist may prescribe a special antiseptic.
  • Monitor the injured area: You must monitor the injured area. Sometimes the symptoms appear after a few months. If there’s inflammation in the gum, the tooth changing color, or if it starts to move you should visit your dentist.
  • Check-ups with specialists: If the patient wears orthodontic braces, they should have a check-up with their orthodontist. This is to assess the condition of the braces and wires that may have become misaligned or detached due to the blow.

Some things to consider

It’s difficult to avoid dental trauma as they’re accidents that often aren’t easy to prevent. Although they can occur at any time and at any age, they’re more frequent in children.

That’s why it’s a good idea to remove low furniture when the little ones begin to walk. Avoiding violent games and using mouthguards during sports is also a good idea.

And, if they do occur, then consider these tips so that you can face the situation correctly, and be able to act quickly and calmly.

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