SOMETIMES, EVEN WHEN we do everything the dentist tells us to do to keep our teeth healthy and strong, accidents still happen, and our teeth can be damaged. Whether a tooth is only chipped or is knocked entirely out of the socket, it’s critical to see an endodontist right away.
Why the Endodontist?
Unlike general dentists, endodontists are specially trained to treat traumatic dental injuries. With their equipment, experience, and techniques, they have the best chance of saving an injured tooth. What’s more, it isn’t always only the visibly injured tooth that’s been damaged. Sometimes neighboring teeth are also compromised, and an endodontist can help those teeth as well.
Cracked or Chipped Teeth
In many cases, a chipped or fractured crown can be repaired, either by reattaching the broken piece or by cementing a tooth-colored filling in place. If a big enough portion of the crown has been broken off, it may need to be restored with an artificial crown or cap.
If the pulp of the tooth is exposed or damaged in the fracture, root canal treatment may be necessary to save the tooth. Injuries to a molar, including fractured cusps and cracks may also require root canal treatment and a full coverage crown to restore the tooth’s function if the damage reaches the root. If the tooth is split all the way down to the root, it may require extraction.
If the tooth gets pushed out of place or deeper into its socket, the endodontist may be able to reposition and stabilize it, though root canal treatment is usually needed if the tooth has been dislodged. (Children are less likely to need root canal treatment because their teeth are still developing.)
When the tooth is entirely knocked out, getting treatment as soon as possible will make the difference between keeping and losing the tooth. The chances of saving the tooth are better the sooner you get to the endodontist, preferably within 30 minutes of the accident. Be very careful in how you handle the tooth. Do not touch the root surface!
After evaluating the tooth, the endodontist will place it back in the socket and attach a stabilizing splint that resembles a bonded retainer for a few weeks. Root canal treatment may be involved later, but that depends on how quickly it was initially treated and how well the root is doing.
What to Do on the Way to the Endodontist
Hopefully you will be able to get to the dentist or endodontist very quickly after an injury. In the meantime, there are a couple things you can do to manage the discomfort and protect the tooth. If the dental injury hurts when breathing through your mouth or drinking cold fluids, bite down on clean, moist cloth or gauze to relieve the discomfort, but don’t apply topical painkillers, and don’t apply aspirin directly to the affected area.
Know Where to Go for Tooth Injury Treatment
When an accident happens, the priority should be to get treatment as quickly as possible, so don’t worry if that means going to an emergency room or a general dentist first. Still, definitely keep the endodontist in mind for tooth injuries, because the health of your teeth will be in the best hands!