If you’ve ever taken a solid knock on the sporting field and felt your teeth rattle, you may be curious and wonder: can you sprain a tooth? Tooth trauma is more serious than you might first think. And while it’s not as physically limiting as, say, spraining your ankle or twisting a knee, there are still some serious after effects you need to be aware of.
I should clear up one thing before I start: you can’t sprain your tooth. But there is a ligament around the tooth that can get stretched. That ligament can recover. But in the case of some sort of trauma from sports injuries, it often won’t.
It is possible for the tooth to dislodge. The tooth can get pushed in, or out, or sideways. It can get twisted as well. It’s not quite the same as a sprain (where there is swelling but no dislocation). But it can certainly get repositioned or dislocated.
With any trauma cases it’s best to go to the dentist immediately. So, for example, if the tooth has moved due to an injury and you don’t put it back into the right place within the first few hours, then there’s a good chance that that tooth is going to get stuck there in the wrong position.
Many sporting injuries seem to happen at a time when it’s hard to get to the dentist. If that’s the case, what you have to do is minimise any further trauma, and avoid using that tooth until someone can treat it.
What not to do with tooth trauma
There are a few things you should avoid doing if you find yourself on the football field with one of your teeth in your hand. Firstly, don’t just shove it back where it came from. It’s probably going to be quite painful. And you can’t be 100 per cent sure that you’re putting the tooth back in the right position.
Also, don’t try to hold it in place with your mouthguard. That will probably be too painful anyway, but it’s not going to benefit you in any way when trying to save the tooth.
Generally, if the tooth has completely come out, you should put the tooth either in milk or in a salt water, or in the mouth, under the tongue. Bring it in with you to the dentist.
You have about half an hour, to an hour to store the tooth either in milk or in the mouth. That will give us a chance to put it back in. If it has come out in the dirt, definitely avoid scrubbing or cleaning it. Because doing that will kill the live cells around the teeth. And that would prevent reattachment to the mouth and the bone.
With an injury that has led to that sort of severe loss of a tooth—if it’s pushed in or has come out or has twisted—the tooth really needs to be repositioned quite quickly by a dentist in order for it to survive.