The following are signs and symptoms that you should look for in the weeks and months following a trauma that could indicate further problems with the traumatized tooth.
Discomfort – The presence of discomfort when chewing for the first week to ten days following a trauma is normal. However, if the child notes any spontaneous discomfort ( discomfort occurring at random times not associated with chewing) or has discomfort that awakens him/her at night then the problem is more serious and warrants a call to our office. In young children or children unable to verbalize pain, look for signs such as refusal to eat or refusal to use the front teeth for biting.
Mobility – Initially many traumatized teeth may be loose. Usually they will eventually tighten back up. However, if the tooth becomes loose or mobile again or then there could be a problem developing with the root and further treatment of the tooth may be necessary.
Color change – In baby teeth the traumatized tooth may often discolor. The discoloration can vary from gray to yellow to dark brown. Color change in baby teeth without any other symptoms can usually just be monitored. In permanent teeth color change usually indicates that the tooth’s pulp (nerves and blood vessels) has died and a root canal will likely be needed.
Abscess – A “gum boil” that looks like a pimple will form on the gums around the traumatized tooth. This indicates that the tooth’s pulp (nerves and blood vessels) has died and is infected. In baby teeth this usually indicates that the tooth will need to be extracted (taken out). In permanent teeth this usually indicates the need for a root canal.
Swelling – Often there is swelling of the lips or other tissues around the traumatized tooth. This will subside over time. However, if the tissues surrounding and injured tooth begin to swell again in the weeks to months following the injury then the tooth’s pulp (nerves and blood vessels) may have abscessed and become infected. In baby teeth this usually indicates that the tooth will need to be extracted (taken out). In permanent teeth this usually indicated the need for a root canal.