Most people go into the dentist for a routine checkup twice per year, not thinking much of the run-of-the-mill procedure. But when dental trauma (injury to the teeth and/or gums) occurs, the necessity of having a reliable local dentist becomes all too apparent.

In this article, we’ll review some of the most common types of dental trauma and what causes them. We’ll also discuss how a dentist or oral surgeon can treat these injuries and offer the means for greater tooth protection in the future. 

If, while reading, you suspect that you may have endured one or multiple instances of dental trauma, please get in touch with your local dentist as soon as possible. If you live in the Baltimore area, please contact Federal Hill Smiles for more information on how we can help you recover fully from traumatic dental injury. 

Types of Adult Dental Trauma 

It goes without saying that adults have their permanent teeth developed and grown in. If all goes well with the natural growth process, there shouldn’t be much issue. However, there are a number of types of dental trauma that can happen to permanent teeth. These include:

  • Subluxation: the looseness or increased mobility of the tooth due to weakening of supporting structures
  • Avulsion: the complete displacement of the tooth from its oral socket
  • Tooth fracture: a significant crack or breakage on the rigid exterior shell of the tooth
  • Lateral luxation: the displacement of the tooth as a result of a nearby bone fracture
  • Intrusion: the displacement of the tooth into or towards the alveolar bone 
  • Extrusion: the displacement of the tooth outward or away from the alveolar bone

When it comes to conditions like extrusion and intrusion, it can be difficult to surmise why this kind of dental trauma would occur, whether it is the result of an accidental injury or an underlying issue in maxillofacial development. By contrast, most people can imagine how a fracture or even an avulsion can take place — sports, car collisions, and tooth decay are some of the most common and plausible causes of adult dental trauma.

How Dental Trauma is Treated

Depending on the type and severity of the injury, dental trauma may be treated in a variety of different ways. 

Subluxation and extrusion rely on the use of a flexible splint, kept secure for 14 days as a means of stabilizing the tooth. A soft diet is usually recommended during this time, and regular checkups and monitoring of the tooth (including its pulp and nerves) is highly encouraged. 

Lateral luxation begins with a repositioning of the displaced tooth and requires a longer-term splint administration, typically lasting up to 4 weeks. In tandem with soft diet and professional monitoring, most individuals can make a full recovery from this type of dental trauma.

Treatments for intrusion may vary slightly depending on the precise cause of the displacement. If the intrusion is unexpected or sudden, and if the teeth are not yet fully developed, a spontaneous eruption will likely be implemented. Other methodologies for treatment include orthodontic repositioning and, for severe dental intrusions, a surgical repositioning. If the intrusion is severe enough, a root canal may be administered so as to prevent resorption of the tooth.

Avulsion, or complete dental displacement, is treated by way of repositioning and splinting for 2 weeks. To prevent future complications, a root canal may be administered, and if the avulsion was related to a sports injury, the dentist should recommend a protective mouth guard. 

Lastly, fractures of the roots of teeth begin with initial treatment to stabilize the fragmented pieces of bone. If necessary, a pulpectomy (removal of nerves) may also be completed. To finalize the treatment, one of the following methods will likely be employed: a crown, an orthodontic extrusion, a surgical extrusion, a decoronation, or a full extraction. 

Considering Pediatric Dental Trauma

Kids are supposed to spend their days playing, but occasionally these recreational activities can result in unwanted injury. In particular, pediatric dental trauma ensues when children are playing sports, riding bicycles, taking tumbles, and more. 

Sometimes pediatric dental trauma is not as serious of an injury because a tooth impaction, chip, or crack is endured by a baby (i.e. impermanent) tooth. However, many children start to grow their permanent teeth as early as age 6, so if pediatric dental trauma occurs after first or second grade, the chances are good that the tooth will not regrow and therefore will require surgery or treatment.

At Federal Hill Smiles, we specialize in treatments and procedures for dental trauma and tooth injuries. If you believe you are suffering from an avulsion, extrusion, or another dental trauma condition, please give us a call or visit our website to contact us today.