Oral Trauma

Trauma to Teeth

After a tooth is traumatized, the following situations can occur

  • No apparent damage to the tooth structure
  • The tooth becomes loose

    Photograph of an upper permanent incisor erupting away from its original position.

  • Fracture of the crown of the tooth

    Photograph of an upper permanent incisor having its crown partially fractured.

  • Fracture of the root of the tooth
  • Tooth dislocation (like lateral movement, rotation, intrusion or extrusion)
  • Avulsion of the tooth (the entire tooth being knocked off)

    Photograph of a knocked-off upper permanent incisor.

Management after injury:

  • After injury, even though there is no apparent damage to the crown of the tooth, invisible injury to the root may still occur. Therefore, it is necessary to go to see a dentist immediately after injury. The dentist will give clinical examination and may perform the following treatment according to the situation : smoothen sharp edges of the fractured tooth and apply topical fluoride, filling, endodontic (pulp) treatment or extraction, etc.
  • Even if the tooth is vital right after the injury, it is possible that necrosis can happen within 5 years. Therefore, it is necessary to have follow-up reviews regularly as advised by the dentist.
  • If the crown of a tooth has been fractured, you should try your best to find and pick up the fractured portion of the tooth and go to a dentist immediately.
  • If the whole permanent tooth has been knocked off after the injury, you should keep calm and take the following actions:

    • Pick up the knocked-off tooth by holding the crown, do not touch the root.

      Photograph showing fingers holding the crown of the knocked-off tooth.

    • Use half a glass of plain water or milk to gently rinse off the dirt on the surface of tooth. Do not wash or scrub the root surface of the tooth to avoid damaging the soft tissues around the root.

      Photograph showing the knocked-out tooth being immersed in water.

    • Use the adjacent teeth as reference, put the tooth back into the socket and ask the injured person to gently bite together to hold the tooth in place. The sooner the tooth is put back, the greater the chance of it being preserved.

      Animation showing how the tooth is put back into the socket.

    • If there is any difficulty in inserting the tooth into the socket, immerse the tooth in a container filled with either milk or saliva of the injured person. Make sure the tooth is completely immersed.

      Photograph of a tooth being immersed into milk inside a covered container.

    • Seek treatment from dentist immediately.

You should seek help immediately after oral structure or tooth injury because the sooner the treatment is received, the greater the chance of preserving the teeth. Afterwards, the replanted tooth should be reviewed by the dentist regularly to ensure the success of the treatment.