A shifted or dislodged tooth may be the result of damaged or injured ligaments. The tissues that support your teeth can experience trauma due to falls and other accidents. What occurs in response is called tooth luxation.
A relatively common event, tooth luxation makes up over 25 percent of all general dental injuries and roughly 20 percent involving children. Especially as displacement can affect the bones, nerves and blood supply, it’s important to address luxation right away.
Basics of Tooth Luxation
A level of force contributes to luxation, affecting the tissues, ligaments and bone supporting the tooth. What results can push the tooth out of place, including forward, backward, to the side or impacting the tooth into its own socket.
Luxation affects patients of all ages, although children and young adults develop them more often. While symptoms vary significantly, a luxated tooth may:
- Feel loose
- Become abnormally angled
- Feel sensitive or tender
- Display distinctive damage to the enamel, dentin, pulp or bone and socket
In addition to the tooth and the alveolar bone, periodontal ligaments that secure the tooth to the bone frequently experience visible damage.
Types of Tooth Luxation
Tooth luxation can occur in varying degrees, including:
- Concussion: A concussed tooth is the mildest type of subluxation. The tooth has not moved or loosened, but the surrounding ligaments are damaged. Diagnosis often involves an X-ray and assessing tooth sensitivity. While a concussion can be dismissed as a tender tooth, this injury may heal incorrectly and leave you with sensitive pulp.
- Subluxation: In addition to damage or injury to the periodontal tissue, the tooth feels loose, sensitive and frequently bleeds. Your dentist may fit you with a splint to help the area heal.
- Extrusive Luxation: The ligament is completely severed, causing the tooth to loosen and move around in its socket. In turn, the tooth may now sit at an angle and have a longer appearance. For these injuries, a root canal helps preserve what’s left.
- Lateral Luxation: In addition to a severed ligament, this type of luxation sees the alveolar bone fracture, potentially affecting the ridge of the jawbone. As a result, the tooth is angled forward or backward. At this point, your dentist may opt to pull and reset the tooth or drill it for a root canal.
- Intrusive Luxation: The tooth does not become loose but the force causes it to fracture the alveolar bone. Your dentist may also decide to reset the tooth or perform a root canal.
Symptoms of a Luxated Tooth
Based on the severity of the injury, symptoms include:
- Bleeding around the tooth
- A change in sound when the tooth is tapped
- A loose tooth that may move back and forth
- Pain or sensitivity around or involving the tooth, especially when chewing
If the injury is ignored or not treated properly, multiple complications may result:
- The angled tooth starts to attach to the bone, affecting its placement in the mouth, known as ankylosis
- Periodontal inflammation
- The root starts to break down in response to chronic inflammation, causing the tooth to gradually loosen
- Pulp necrosis, potentially requiring extraction of the full tooth
- Pulp canal obliteration, which causes the tissue in the root canal to develop hard deposits
How Tooth Luxation Occurs
Any injury involving force to the face, mouth or jaw may potentially cause luxation. Common scenarios include:
- Car accidents
- Sports injuries
- Getting into a fight
- Bicycle injuries
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you show symptoms of a luxated tooth, your dentist may ask about recent injuries and will review your medical history. Prepare for assessments that check:
- The stability of the tooth
- The tooth’s sensitivity, including the exterior and pulp
- The sound – particularly if the tooth gives off a metallic noise when hit
- The full extent of ligament, tissue and bone damage with X-rays
Based on your diagnosis and luxation severity, treatment entails:
- Stabilizing the tooth, often with a splint worn for two to four weeks
- Performing a root canal on any tooth pushed out of place and adding a crown
- Applying calcium hydroxide to prevent inflammation from destroying the tooth
- Continually checking on the health of the remaining pulp
- Removing and repositioning the tooth back into the socket
- Regular appointments to assess inflammation and necrosis
At home, you can support your tooth’s recovery by:
- Brushing after every meal with a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Consuming soft foods and liquids
- Taking an NSAID to manage pain
- Washing with an antibacterial mouthwash
- Going for more frequent dental checkups
If you’re concerned about a sensitive tooth, have the issue examined by our dental team. To schedule an appointment, contact our Shelton office today.