Sports injuries are quite common. In fact, they are an inherent risk associated with just about every athletic endeavor. While broken bones, torn ligaments and concussions tend to get more attention due to the extensive ways in which they impact your life, tooth injuries are just as common in sports.
According to the American Dental Assistant’s Association, 5 million people lose a tooth during a sports-related injury each year. While some of these teeth are knocked out instantly due to the trauma to your mouth, it’s also very common to sustain a different tooth injury that results in tooth loss if not treated in a timely manner. For this reason, it’s crucial to visit your dentist after sustaining a blow to the mouth, even if you don’t think you’ve suffered a tooth injury.
Cracked (Fractured) Teeth
A cracked tooth is a common injury after a sustaining mouth trauma in a sporting event. Sometimes these cracks may be fairly minor, while other cases involve serious fractures that can jeopardize the long-term health of your tooth.
Longitudinal cracks in the tooth’s enamel, called “craze lines,” typically don’t place you at high risk for tooth loss. Often, these minor cracks aren’t associated with any pain and you may not become aware of the issue until your next dental checkup. However, it is still important to repair these cracks with a dental crown in order to restore the strength and integrity of the tooth.
In more serious cases, you may sustain a fracture that starts at the crown of the tooth and extends downward. These fractures can result in the following symptoms:
- Sharp pain when biting or chewing
- Intermittent tooth pain
- Pain while eating or drinking foods and beverages that are either very hot or very cold
- Loss of a portion of the tooth’s enamel, exposing the inner dentin and pulp layers
If the fracture extends across the tooth, it may impact the cusp (pointed tips of the tooth). If this occurs, the tooth may need to be extracted or you may require a root canal in order to avoid a serious infection.
Your tooth isn’t the only thing that can become fractured during a sports injury. It’s also possible for the tooth’s root to become fractured. This most commonly occurs when the crack starts at the edge of the root and travels in the direction of the tooth’s chewing surface. Fractured roots often aren’t visible, so you may not be aware of the issue until you develop an infection.
Root fractures vary in severity based on where the crack is located along the root. You will need a root canal in order to repair the damaged root and prevent an infection from developing. The sooner you undergo a root canal, the less likely you are to lose the tooth.
In rare occasions, you may develop a tooth intrusion. This occurs when the tooth is driven back into the jawbone. Tooth intrusions may result in serious problems, including:
- Destruction of the tooth pulp
- Shortening of the root (root resorption), which occurs in approximately 70% of tooth intrusions
- Ankylosis, a condition that occurs when the root fuses with the alveolar bone
Seek Dental Treatment Immediately after a Tooth Injury
The best way to avoid long-term oral health problems after a sports-related tooth injury is to seek dental treatment right away. This will reduce the likelihood that you will ultimately lose the tooth.
In the event that you do lose a tooth or require a tooth extraction after suffering sports-related trauma to the mouth, Dr. Bellisario offers a variety of options to replace your missing tooth with a fully functional prosthetic. Depending on the specifics of your injury and your overall oral health, Dr. Bellisario may recommend:
Contact our Ardmore Dentist
If you’ve suffered a sports-related tooth injury, please contact The Office of Dr. Bellisario using the form on this page or call 610-642-7024 today to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Ardmore, Bryn Mawr, Newtown Square and throughout the Philadelphia area.