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Dental Trauma

Dental trauma is any injury that involves the mouth. This includes injuries to the teeth, the gums, the insides of the cheeks, the tongue, and the lips. Accidents, falls, sports injuries, fights, or eating hard foods might be responsible for dental trauma. The most common outcome of dental trauma is a broken, fractured, or knocked out tooth.

Symptoms

Injuries inside the mouth tend to be very painful. Some soft tissue injuries, such as burns and bruises, do not bleed, but are swollen and tender. Others, that involve cuts, will cause bleeding. Broken or fractured teeth may or may not be painful, depending on the fracture. However, broken teeth may have jagged edges that can cause cuts inside the mouth. When a tooth is knocked out, its socket may be painful, swollen and bloody.

Diagnosis

A dentist or oral surgeon will be able to determine the extent of the damage. Sometimes, x-rays may be necessary for closer examination of any fractures.

Treatment

Wounds such as cuts or punctures to the gums, cheek or lips, should be cleaned carefully with warm water, and may require stitches.

Any damage to the teeth should be treated by a dentist or an oral surgeon as soon as possible. If your tooth is knocked out, immediate treatment may save it. First, make sure you never touch the root-end of the knocked out tooth, in order not to damage any root structures still attached to it. Second, keep the tooth moist until you see a dentist or oral surgeon: either keep it in your mouth, between your gum and your cheek, or wrap it in soft gauze and store it in a small quantity of milk. And finally, see your dentist or oral surgeon as soon as you can - if possible, within 30 minutes of its falling out.

Treatment of tooth fractures or breaks depends on the their severity and position. In some cases, no treatment will be required. In other cases, it may be possible to restore the broken part of the tooth quite easily. Serious breaks or fractures may need to be covered with an artificial crown, either with or without root canal therapy, depending on whether the pulp of the tooth has been damaged. If it is not possible to save the tooth, your dentist or oral surgeon may recommend extraction. Dental implants are now very often used to replace damaged and extracted teeth.

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