A chipped tooth caused by an accident may not be especially serious. If you're fortunate, the injury was painless, and the portion of the tooth that was lost was limited to the surface. The loss of protective surface enamel can make a tooth more sensitive and vulnerable to decay, so you still should seek dental treatment. But if a chipped tooth caused by an accident immediately triggers extreme pain, you need emergency dental treatment.
Such a pronounced toothache after an accident (when coupled with the loss of the tooth's structure) can indicate that your dental pulp chamber has been breached. The pulp chamber is a small hollow at the centre of each tooth. It hosts the dental pulp, which is the tooth's nerve. When an accident removes a sufficient amount of tooth structure, the chamber may be breached, and the tooth's nerve is exposed. Understandably, this can cause severe discomfort.
This traumatic pulpal exposure must be treated as an emergency. The health of dental pulp depends on its isolation from the environment around it, as it must be separated from the potentially harmful oral bacteria that resides naturally in your mouth. Bacterial exposure can lead to an irreversible pulpal infection. The pulp is ordinarily isolated from its surroundings by the tooth structure, but the blunt force trauma to your tooth has removed this protection. An emergency dentist can treat the injury in several different ways, depending on the amount of tooth structure that has been lost.
No Direct Trauma
Provided the pulp itself has not experienced direct trauma, it may be sufficient for an emergency dentist to re-isolate it. A small chip in the tooth's surface can simply be filled using tooth-coloured composite resin. Larger chips that have compromised the structural integrity of the entire tooth may need more reinforcement in the form of a dental crown. An emergency dentist may fit a temporary crown to alleviate your symptoms and protect your tooth, and will refer you back to your dentist for a permanent ceramic crown.
When the pulp has experienced direct trauma, treatment will take a different form. A dentist may need to perform a partial pulpotomy. This is a removal of the damaged portion of the tooth pulp, leaving the majority of the pulp (and the tooth's root systems) intact.
A chipped tooth causing traumatic pulpal exposure won't get better on its own. Your pain will worsen, and treatment becomes more complicated the longer you delay. Please see an emergency dental professional if you experience such a potentially serious injury.
As a mum, I know how essential sport can be to children's development. Through team sports like soccer, kids learn persistence, sportsmanship and the value of supporting their team members. However, all that learning carries some risk as well, and a stray elbow or a ball to the face can result in oral injuries. I have been the mum rushing to the emergency room with a precious permanent tooth sitting in a cup of milk. Admittedly, at the time, I wasn't even sure if the cup of milk was the right solution. As a parent, you will face those situations, and I'm here to make sure you know what to do when they pop up. With this blog, let's explore children's dentistry and sports injuries together... I want you to have the info you need to stay cool, calm and collected, regardless of how many teeth are on the pitch.