If one of your teeth suffers a trauma that causes it to become loose or even come out of the socket, we will often use a dental splint to hold it in place and allow it to heal. Typically, you will wear the dental splint for two weeks, and that will be enough time for the tooth to heal back in place.
Why So Short?
For those of you with a scorecard at home, two weeks might seem like a really short time to wear a dental splint. After all, if a person gets a dental implant, that implant usually has to have three to six months to heal before it’s allowed to function like a natural tooth. Here’s the thing: your natural tooth is different from dental implants in a crucial way that allows them to heal faster.
When dental implants are placed, they’re placed directly in the bone, unlike your natural teeth. Your natural teeth are attached to the surrounding bone indirectly by ligaments. These periodontal ligaments are soft tissue that can heal faster than bone, allowing for recovery in a shorter period of time.
Studies show that, in general, two weeks is enough time for the tooth to successfully heal, if it’s going to.
What If Splinting Doesn’t Work?
Splinting a tooth back in place will usually be successful, but it isn’t always. Sometimes, the tooth will heal back in place perfectly well, but it will have a mark of its trauma. It’s common for teeth to develop discoloration after trauma. If the tooth is still vital (alive), then this is just a cosmetic issue that might be treated with a porcelain veneer, though more often a dental crown is used.
Other times, the discoloration is a sign that the tooth has died. In this case, we’ll perform a root canal to remove the dead pulp and prevent infection. Sometimes we might even remove live pulp if we think it’s safer.
But if the tooth just doesn’t heal back in place, we can replace it with a dental implant.
Sometimes the tooth might seem to heal, but the body has decided the tooth is lost and is actually “stripping it for parts”: harvesting minerals from the root for use elsewhere. The tooth will become very loose and may even come out under normal use.
Reconstructive dentistry has many options for ensuring that a traumatized tooth heals or is replaced so that your smile will always look full and healthy. If you need help with a tooth that’s been hurt or knocked out, please call