Traumatic Injuries

Your teeth contain some of the hardest tissues in the human body. However, with the right amount of force even the strongest substances can be broken or damaged. Many different types of injuries can affect your teeth during an accident, depending on how much force is experienced and where this force is delivered to your teeth/jawbones.

The outermost layer of the top part of your visible tooth is called enamel; this layer is very hard and brittle and is like a turtle shell to protect the inside of your tooth. The next layer inside a tooth is called dentin and this layer is softer, helping to protect enamel from breaking by acting as a shock absorber. Think of this layer like the softer padding inside a baseball catcher’s mitt. The very inside of your tooth is the pulp, which houses the nerves/blood vessels of the tooth; think of this like the “heart” of the tooth. The chance of your tooth needing a root canal after injury is based on how much damage the pulp/nerve space suffers.

Surrounding the root of your tooth (the part of the tooth you can’t see in your mouth), is the periodontal ligament. This ligament and your gums help attach your tooth to your jawbone, keeping it in place.

Please see below for an overview of the types of traumatic injuries that can affect your teeth:

Chipped Tooth:

Sometimes the outer edge of a tooth may chip off, but there is no exposure of the pulp (nerve space). In most cases, a root canal is not necessary and your dentist can either bond the tooth fragment back onto your tooth or place a tooth colored filling.

If your tooth has a larger and deeper fracture, the pulp (nerve space) may be exposed and you may see some bleeding from the tooth. As long as your see Dr. Kruszewski within 7 days of the injury, there is a high chance that the tooth can be fixed with just a filling (without needing a complete root canal).

Luxation (Tooth Dislocation):

If enough force hits your tooth in just the right way, sometimes the tooth can become displaced into a new position in your mouth. It is very important you see your dentist or Dr. Kruszewski as soon as possible in order to reposition your tooth into the right position. With this type of injury, there is a high chance that your tooth will need a root canal.

In nearly all cases, you will have something called a dental splint temporarily cemented onto your teeth for a few weeks. This helps to stabilize and allow healing of the tooth ligament, making chewing more comfortable. This of it like “an arm cast for your tooth”.

Avulsion (Knocked-Out Tooth):

If enough force hits your tooth in just the right way, sometimes the tooth can become displaced completely out of its socket. If this occurs, it is VERY important that you store the tooth as soon as possible in milk (or keep it bathed in saliva in your mouth) until you can see your dentist or Dr. Kruszewski. Only pick up and handle the tooth touching the enamel/white part of the tooth! With this type of injury, your tooth will need a root canal.

In nearly all cases, you will have something called a dental splint temporarily cemented onto your teeth for a few weeks. This helps to stabilize and allow healing of the tooth ligament, making chewing more comfortable. This of it like “an arm cast for your tooth”.

Root Fracture:

If enough force hits your tooth in just the right way, sometimes the root of the tooth can suffer a crack; the top part of the tooth (white enamel) may or may not have any visible injury or cracks in your mouth. Dr. Kruszewski will perform an extensive evaluation of your tooth. In most cases, a root canal is not necessary. However, Dr. Kruszewski will closely monitor your tooth over time and perform a root canal if it is needed. During the following months/years after the injury you may notice your tooth change color. Please contact Dr. Kruszewski for an evaluation if you see this occur.