By Andrew Hickey on Jul 24, 2023 @ 10:00 AM
When we think about oral health issues, we normally think about cavities or gum disease or toothaches. However, there is a hidden danger lurking in our daily lives - dental injuries. These can range from a chipped or knocked out tooth to teeth nerve damage. You may experience a dental injury at work or dental injuries in sports. These issues can happen in an instant and have long-lasting consequences.
- Leading causes of dental injuries include playing sports, accidental falls, and automobile accidents.
- Types of dental injuries include chipped teeth, knocked out teeth, and misaligned teeth.
- In case of injury stay calm, avoid touching the area (except to prevent bleeding), and contact your dentist or emergency dental clinic ASAP.
- To try and prevent dental injuries wear protective equipment during sports and keep up with your daily oral hygiene routine.
- Untreated dental injuries can lead to further damage like decay, infection, and permanent tooth loss.
- Check your dental and medical benefits to see what coverage you have
But what exactly do you need to know to protect your teeth? We will take a closer look at the common causes of dental injuries, as well as the potential complications and best ways to prevent injury. Whether you have an active lifestyle or simply want to safeguard your smile, understanding dental injuries is valuable.
Common causes of dental injuries
Dental injuries can occur due to several factors. However, some causes are more common than others. One of the leading causes is dental injuries in sports. These types of injuries are said to account for 40% of all dental injuries in the U.S. An estimated 13% to 39% of dental trauma happens in kids who participate in sports. Contact sports like football, basketball, and hockey pose an elevated risk of injury. Similarly, recreational activities such as skateboarding, biking, and even swimming can lead to dental injuries if proper precautions are not taken.
Accidental falls are another common cause of dental injuries, such as slipping on a wet floor or tripping on uneven ground. These falls may cause dental trauma and lead to a condition called a luxated tooth. This can affect the tissue, ligaments and even the bones that support your teeth. Automobile accidents can also lead to dental injuries. Due to the nature of these accidents, dental injuries are not always seen as a top priority.
Types of dental injuries
- Chipped tooth: This can occur due to a direct blow to the mouth or biting down on a hard object. While a small chip may not cause immediate pain, it can lead to long-term problems if left untreated.
- Fractured tooth: It involves a crack or break in the tooth. This can be a minor crack that affects your tooth enamel. It could also be a more severe fracture that extends underneath the enamel into the dentin or pulp. A tooth fracture can be extremely painful and may require immediate intervention.
- Knocked out tooth: Also known as an avulsed tooth. This typically occurs from a forceful impact to the mouth. You will need to go in for immediate care to increase the chances of successful reimplantation.
- Tooth displacement: This involves the tooth being pushed out of its original position. Typically, the tooth is still partially attached to the socket. It needs to be repositioned by a dental professional to prevent complications.
Immediate actions to take after a dental injury.
It's important to stay calm and carefully assess the situation. For chipped or fractured teeth, it’s recommended to rinse your mouth with warm water. If there is any bleeding, apply gentle pressure with a clean cloth or gauze pad to control it. Over-the-counter pain relievers can also help with discomfort.
If a tooth has been knocked out, it should be held by the crown, and you should avoid touching the root. It needs to be carefully rinsed with a saline solution or milk (as opposed to soap) to remove dirt or debris.
Regardless of the type of dental injury, contact your dentist or visit an emergency dental clinic as soon as possible.
Preventive measures to avoid dental injuries.
While dental injuries are unavoidable in many cases, preventive measures can reduce your risks. If you’re involved in contact sports or physical activities, you should wear a mouthguard. You can get the highest level of protection with a custom-fitted mouthguard. It's also important to wear necessary protective gear. This helps provide added protection and reduce the likelihood of facial or dental trauma.
Proper oral hygiene can also be used to help prevent dental injuries. Regular brushing and flossing helps keep your teeth and gums strong. It also reduces the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Long-term consequences of untreated dental injuries
What may seem like a minor dental issue can have long-term consequences. A chipped or fractured tooth may lead to further damage. This could include the development of cracks or decay. There is also the risk of infections and abscesses. The tooth structure can be weakened, leading to tooth loss. Infections can spread to the surrounding tissues and even enter the bloodstream, posing a risk to overall health.
Knocked-out teeth can result in permanent tooth loss without immediate dental care. The surrounding teeth can then move into the empty space, causing problems with your bite and alignment. Additionally, the bone that supports the tooth may deteriorate over time. This makes it difficult to replace the missing tooth with a dental implant in the future.
The importance of seeking professional dental care
Dentists can ensure the best possible outcome when it comes to dental injuries. They have the necessary skills and technology to accurately diagnose and treat the injury. And they can help prevent future dental injuries and identify any underlying issues that may have contributed to the injury.
Dental injury treatment options
How dental injuries are treated depends on the type of injury and the severity. For chipped or fractured teeth, bonding or veneers may be used to restore appearance and function. In the case of a severe tooth fracture, a crown or root canal therapy may be needed.
Knocked-out teeth require immediate attention. This allows the best chance to reinsert the tooth and stabilize it. If reimplantation is not possible, your dentist may consider dental implants or bridges. Displaced teeth can often be repositioned manually by a professional or through orthodontic treatment.
Dental injury insurance coverage
Dental injuries can come with a significant price tag. Even more so if extensive treatment is needed. However, many dental insurance plans provide coverage for dental injuries. This can include emergency dental care, restorative procedures, and tooth replacement. It's important to review your insurance policy to understand the levels of coverage available. In addition, some medical insurance plans offer coverage for dental injuries resulting from an accident. It's worth contacting your dental and medical insurance to determine the available coverage.
As we have discussed, dental injuries are not to be taken lightly. The hidden dangers can have significant effects on our oral health and overall wellbeing. By being aware of the common causes and types of injuries we can better protect ourselves against these risks. It’s also important to seek professional care, take preventive measures and be aware of your insurance coverage. It all adds up to peace of mind.
Disclaimer: This article is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem, and those seeking professional advice should consult with a licensed dentist or physician.