By: Dr. Elizabeth Eggert
How did this start?
Tim broke his front tooth while playing football at the community center on the weekend. His father called our office emergency line and described what had happened. It sounded like the tooth was still in his mouth, but a large portion of it was broken off. Dr. Elizabeth asked Tim’s father to put the fragments they could find in some water and meet her at our office. She was able to meet Tim and his father within an hour to assess and address the situation.
What was involved?
Upon examination it was noted 2/3 of Tim’s natural tooth was broken off. The tooth was slightly mobile, but there was minimal bleeding. He was having minimal pain, except when the tooth touched cold water or air, and there were not any cuts in his mouth or face. Although the fracture was substantial, it luckily did not go into the nerve of the tooth.
The fractured part was in 3 pieces, but using her dental skills, Dr. Elizabeth was able to piece them back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Using filling material, she was able to bond the pieces back together, making it look almost as if the tooth had never been broken.
It was recommended that Tim take ibuprofen for the first few days to reduce any inflammation inside the tooth and the tissues surrounding it. He was also instructed to have a softer diet for a few weeks and to not use that tooth for biting into things.
As you can see from the after photos, the tooth pieces fit back together extremely well. The tooth does naturally stick out slightly, which could have contributed to it fracturing when it was hit. Tim has been following up with an orthodontist to develop a plan to move the teeth into a more ideal position and therefore keep them safer from potential future trauma.
After a trauma like this, it is important to follow the tooth over time. Depending on the injury it is typical to reevaluate the tooth over a period of weeks and months to make sure that complications aren’t developing. Even though the tooth nerve didn’t seem to be irreversibly damaged after the accident, it can sometimes deteriorate over time and eventually need a root canal.
It has been over 2 years since Tim’s accident and his tooth is still doing well. Because of how large the fracture was, the repair won’t last forever, and the tooth will likely need to be repaired again, probably multiple times, during Tim’s life with more filling material or even a crown or an implant. However, the longer the initial repair lasts, the better it will be for the tooth long term.
Tim and his dad were very appreciative of how quickly he was able to get in right when this trauma occurred and get it repaired. Great job by them remaining calm and gathering all the pieces, and great job by Dr. Elizabeth putting them back together again.