Dental Injuries

  • Medical Author:
    Donna S. Bautista, DDS

    Dr. Donna S. Bautista, DDS, completed her undergraduate studies at the University of California, San Diego with a bachelor of arts in biochemistry and cell biology. During her time at UC San Diego, she was involved in basic research including studying processes related to DNA transcription in the field of molecular biology. Upon graduation, she went on to attend dental school at the University of California, San Francisco. In addition to her formal dental training, she provided dental care for underserved communities in the Bay Area through clinics and health fairs. She also worked toward mentoring high school students interested in the field of dentistry.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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What is the treatment for a displaced tooth?

Instead of being completely knocked out of the mouth, a tooth can be displaced into another position. In the mouth, a displaced tooth may be pulled out and appear elongated, or be pushed in and appear shorter. A displaced tooth can also be pushed forward, backward, sideways, or rotated. The sooner the dentist can splint or realign the tooth with orthodontic brackets and wires, the easier it can be brought back into proper alignment. Trauma significant enough to cause tooth displacement can also lead to pulp injury. As a result, a displaced tooth should be evaluated periodically for several months to determine if a root canal procedure or tooth extraction is needed.

Is it possible to prevent dental injuries?

Prevention of dental injuries involves aligning protruding front teeth with dental braces and using face masks and mouthguards while participating in sports. Mouthguards have been shown to reduce trauma not only to teeth, gums, and the surrounding jaw bone but also the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Mouthguards can also reduce the intensity and number of head concussions, as well as reduce pressure and bone deformation of the skull when a force is directed to the chin.

Before the mandatory use of face masks and mouthguards for high school and college football players in 1963, 50% of all football injuries involved the face and the mouth. Since the mandatory use of these protective devices, dental injuries in football players have almost been eliminated. It is now recommended or required that a mouthguard be worn for the following sports: football, baseball, basketball, racquetball, soccer, ice hockey, field hockey, street hockey, wrestling, boxing, martial arts, volleyball, rollerblading, skating, skateboarding, and bicycling.

Mouthguards can be purchased in pharmacies and sports supply stores and molded at home. They can also be custom made by the dentist. Store-bought mouthguards are usually less expensive than custom-made ones. However, store-bought mouthguards may not fit the athlete's mouth well, become loose, be uncomfortably bulky, and may interfere with speech or breathing. The ideal mouthguards are custom made by a dentist using a mold taken of the athlete's upper dental arch. The custom mouthguard is then fabricated in a lab out of a special plastic that conforms comfortable around the teeth and gums. A well-fitting custom mouthguard should be comfortable and not interfere with breathing and speech.


Andreasen, Jens O., et al. Traumatic Dental Injuries: A Manual, 2nd ed. Ames, IA: Blackwell, 2003.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/25/2016

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