Anyone who plays contact sports should be wearing a mouthguard. Of course, nobody is going to be wearing a mouthguard all the time, but you probably wish you had been if you suffer an accident that causes an injury in your mouth. There can be tissue damage to your face, but this might not be the worst of your injuries. Consider yourself lucky if your teeth have stayed intact. However, just because your teeth haven't been knocked out, that doesn't mean that they will survive the accident without quick action.
Tooth extrusion is when blunt force trauma has caused a tooth to become loose while still remaining in its socket. This can be rather painful, and the injury will generally be quite obvious. The tooth's mobility will be evident when you brush your tongue against it (but please try not to do this). Even in cases when the extrusion wasn't immediately noticed, the injury will become all too clear when you bite down.
A Very Serious Injury
There's no universal result to tooth extrusion. The tooth might appear elongated or might appear to be at an incorrect angle in its socket. There can also be bleeding at the base of the tooth. This type of injury is very serious, and you need to see an emergency dentist without any delay. In the short term, a cold compress can offer relief. If you should decide to take any pain medication as a precaution, be sure to tell the dentist the type of medication and dosage you've taken.
Assessing the Damage
Although tooth extrusion is clearly a priority, the dentist will perform some diagnostic tests (generally an x-ray) to look for secondary damage or any abnormalities that might prove to be an obstruction for stabilising the tooth. Stabilisation is achieved with some help from the neighbouring teeth, which is why the dentist needs to assess the entirety of the affected area of your mouth.
Healing and Rebuilding
Tooth extrusion often comes with a tearing of the periodontal ligaments that help to anchor your tooth. These need to heal and rebuild. The dentist will splint the extruded tooth to the teeth on either side. This can involve an orthodontic wire or a dental cement. With the support from these other teeth, the affected tooth's periodontal ligaments and other support structures can heal.
The splint will be removed once your tooth has had adequate time to heal, and ideally, this will be the extent of your treatment. When the tooth's inner pulp (the nerve) has been compromised, a root canal might be required. This is the case when the level of damage means that pulp death is inevitable.
Tooth extrusion will not repair itself without stabilisation, so you must see a dentist immediately after an accident that has loosened a tooth. Contact a clinic like Whitehills Dental Practice to learn more.