After a year+ of social distancing, people are happy to be driving anywhere (and every where) to get out of the house.
As more folks hit the road, car accidents are also rising. In fact, according to Progressive (the car insurance people) accidents are now up 47% year-over-year.
Unfortunately, dental injuries often accompany car accidents. And they affect people of all ages. But if you (or someone in your family) do get your mouth into a “fender bender” we’ve got you covered. Besides treating any pain and discomfort, we’ll do whatever we can to save your injured tooth, as well as restore its function and appearance.
There are also some things you can do that make a big difference in our ability to save your tooth.
Here are some common types of dental injuries from car accidents, and what you can do after the injury occurs.
5 Common Dental Injuries from Car Accidents
Chipped Teeth – One of the most common dental injuries from car accidents are chipped teeth. If you have chipped, cracked, loose or tender teeth from an accident try to see a dentist within 12 hours. If it’s possible, try and find any pieces of the tooth that have come off. Sometimes it may be possible to reattach them with tooth-colored bonding material. Depending on the severity of damage, we may also suggest porcelain dental crowns, which will restore the natural look & function of your teeth, while also saving the damaged tooth.
Knocked Out Teeth – Referred to as avulsed teeth in the dental world, this injury occurs when a permanent tooth gets knocked out of its socket. If this happens, recover your tooth and make an emergency dental appointment – the sooner the better. And then safely transport the avulsed tooth to your appointment. Ideally, if your tooth is not dirty, place it back into its socket and avoid touching the root to minimize any damage. Once the tooth is back in its socket (replanted), gently bite down on it to hold it in place with minimal pressure. This will help avoid causing additional pain. If the tooth was on the floor, or in dirt, rinse it with clean water or saline before putting it in your mouth.
- Can’t put your tooth back in? Carefully hold it in your mouth, between the teeth and cheek. Another option is to transport the tooth in a plastic bag with either your saliva, or a cup of cold milk. Other considerations? If there is bleeding from the tooth socket, gently apply pressure to this area, using gauze if possible. Primary (baby) teeth don’t usually need to be replanted.
- Dental Treatment Options – This depends on the damage and on the long-term likelihood that we can save your tooth. Treatment may involve a root canal at some point. If your tooth can be saved a splint may be used to help keep it attached in the socket. If your tooth can’t be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary, and we can offer you various options to replace your missing tooth, such as dental implants, which look, feel and function like natural teeth! Please note – the sooner you can get an emergency appointment with a dentist, the more likely you are to save your tooth.
Partially Displaced Teeth – A car accident may dislodge your teeth, pushing them out of alignment, or into or out of the jaw. When this occurs, time is of essence – see a dentist within six hours of the accident. A careful examination of your mouth (plus x-rays if needed) should reveal the extent of the damage, and indicate what restorative treatments will be required.
Root Fracture – Sometimes the root of the tooth will sustain damage from an accident in the form of a crack. Where this crack, or fracture, appears will determine the prognosis and treatment for the tooth. The closer the fracture is to the gum line the more difficult it is to save the tooth. Depending on the fracture location and the likelihood of the tooth surviving, treatments may vary – from using a splint to help reposition and stabilize the tooth to a root canal used in conjunction with a dental crown to restore the tooth. If your tooth can’t be saved, and requires an extraction, we’ll go over all options to replace your missing tooth. While the symptoms of a tooth fracture are often minimal or pain-less initially, undetected root fractures can lead to more painful and serious dental issues down the road. If you’ve been in a car accident, please don’t postpone having us examine your teeth so that we can verify whether you’re fracture free.
Soft-Tissue Injuries – Your teeth aren’t the only thing in your mouth that can sustain injuries from a car accident. Soft-tissue injuries may occur as well, such as damage to your gums, tongue or the insides of your cheeks. If you have any soft-tissue injuries, please make an appointment to see a dentist as soon as possible, as well as do the following: Wash and rinse any injured areas with soap and water (when possible) and remove any debris from your mouth by hand. If you notice any bleeding, apply a gauze pad directly on the wounded area with gentle pressure. Note: If bleeding can’t be stopped after 10 minutes or so, go to an emergency room.
Unfortunately for many drivers car accidents are now a fact of life. AllState reports that 77% of all drivers have already been in a car accident. We hope that you never have to share that experience.
Whether its for a long road-trip or driving to work, getting back out on the road feels good. But please be sure to buckle up and drive safely out there. And if you do ever get into an accident that may have caused you some dental injuries (or worries), please don’t hesitate to call your friendly Burien ‘accidentist’ as soon as possible – (206) 242-0066.