Had An Accident That's Causing Tooth Pain? Check For Lateral Luxation

If you were in a sports accident, car accident, or another incident that caused you to develop tooth pain, you should visit your dentist to get checked for lateral luxation. A luxated tooth is one that hasn't fallen out, but the tooth itself has shifted in the socket. Trauma can stretch or break the periodontal ligaments that hold a tooth in place. In the case of a lateral luxation, the alveolar bone can develop a fracture, and the tooth may be angled forward or backward. Read on to read more about this issue and how to correct it.

Why Is a Lateral Luxation an Issue?

Some patients may not get to their dentist right away if a tooth hasn't fallen out or shifted much, but it's important that you visit your dentist as soon as you can since postponing treatment can lead to inadequate tooth positioning and increased treatment costs. One study found that when a person receives care within the first 30 minutes after injury, they have a better chance of saving the injured tooth.

Even if a luxated tooth hasn't moved much, the change in position can affect a tooth's nerves and blood supply. In worst-case scenarios, a person can develop pulp necrosis, which would require endodontic therapy or tooth extraction. Lateral luxations can also cause occlusal interference, which means when a person closes their mouth, opposing teeth won't come together easily and tooth pain may be exacerbated.

How Are Lateral Luxations Diagnosed?

When you visit your dentist, they will take X-rays and conduct a physical exam. Your dentist will go over your symptoms; besides causing tooth pain, teeth with lateral luxation may bleed easily around the gums and be tender/loose to the touch. Your dentist may tap your tooth to check for ankylotic sounds, where the tooth makes a high-pitched metallic sound when tapped; this sound may indicate pulp damage. Your dentist may also conduct a pulp sensitivity test, where thermal or electric stimuli are used to determine the health of sensory responses.

How Is Lateral Luxation Treated?

Like other oral injuries, your treatment route can depend on the severity of your injury. Some dentists may actually extract the tooth and then reinsert it into an ideal position. If the lateral luxation has moved the tooth in such a way that it's locked into an unfavorable position, your dentist might use orthodontic traction devices to pull the tooth into a more favorable position.

Your dentist will then place a temporary splint—usually made of wire and resin—to secure the tooth in place. You may have this splint for a few weeks, during which you may need to avoid chewing with that tooth and/or eat soft foods for a time. Your dentist will likely schedule follow-up appointments to make sure the dental pulp is still healthy and not causing inflammation or necrosis. If the pulp isn't able to stay healthy, then your dentist might refer you to an endodontist for root canal therapy.

Reach out to an emergency dentist for more information.