Blunt trauma, or an impactful blow, is a common occurrence in contact sports. There's a real possibility of blunt trauma becoming dental trauma, which is why a sports mouthguard is always an excellent idea. But what if you weren't wearing one? Sometimes dental trauma that happens during sports will knock a tooth clean out of its socket (and if you hurry, an emergency dentist can replant the tooth). But what about when the tooth has stayed in your gums, but is now worryingly mobile?
The correct term for a loose tooth that hasn't detached from its dental socket is tooth subluxation. Such an injury can go undetected in the immediate aftermath of your blunt force trauma. A quick examination shows that the tooth is still intact, so you might assume that you've escaped serious injury. Arguably you have since the tooth is not avulsed (knocked out). Yet the health of the tooth may deteriorate without emergency dental care, and tooth loss is still a possibility.
Symptoms of Subluxation
The extent of your tooth subluxation may not become evident until later. The tooth and its surrounding gum tissues will become sore. There may also be localized bleeding around the tooth, which will be noticeable, although not profuse. While you shouldn't touch the tooth (either with your hand or your tongue), some inadvertent contact is unavoidable, and you'll notice that the tooth feels loose. It may restabilize itself, yet without professional assistance, it may heal in an incorrect position. The tooth's living pulp (its nerve) may also have been injured.
Tooth subluxation warrants a trip to an emergency dentist. It's not the sort of injury that should be left alone, and a wait-and-see approach will not be wise in this context. An emergency dentist will perform a pulp vitality test. If the tooth's pulp has suffered irreversible trauma, it will soon perish, with its tissues becoming necrotic. This has the potential to cause a serious infection of the tooth, which may spread to surrounding tissues and teeth. A root canal can be needed to preserve the tooth, with the necrotic pulp removed and the tooth then internally reinforced with dental latex.
Supporting the Tooth
Even when the pulp vitality test demonstrates that your tooth pulp has escaped injury, the subluxated tooth still requires stabilization. It can be splinted to the neighboring teeth, which gives it the necessary support to reconnect to its dental socket.
Tooth subluxation can go unnoticed at first after an accident, but any type of blunt force trauma that has led to tooth mobility must be checked out by a dentist.
Contact a local emergency dentist to learn more.