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Dental Implants: A Guide for Seniors

If you are a senior considering dental implants, you may have to worry about issues other dental patients don't have to think about. For example, you may need more time to recover after receiving your implants. My name is Jodi, and I've been working with seniors for years. I decided to create this blog to help the seniors I can't meet in person. In this space, I'm going to post entries on everything related to dental implants and seniors. From tips on flossing implants after arthritis has claimed some of your dexterity, to guiding you through the implants-vs-dentures debate, this blog is designed for you. Thanks for reading. I hope you find what you need!



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Dental Implants: A Guide for Seniors

Why You Should See Your Dentist After Any Jaw Injury

by Jimmy Carter

If you've had an accident that caused a sharp blow to your mouth, it's always wise to see your dentist. Still, you might not see the point of this if you can't see any damage. Sure, your teeth may have been on the receiving end of a strong jolt, but if they don't appear to be damaged, what's the harm? Just because you can't see a fracture, it doesn't mean that your teeth escaped unscathed.

A Vertical Root Fracture

When blunt force trauma impacts your teeth at a certain angle, the crowns of your teeth might be unharmed, but their roots might be another matter entirely. If untreated, a vertical root fracture can extend upwards (aggravated by bite pressure) until your teeth become similarly cracked. 

Identifying the Fracture

Your dentist will diagnose a root fracture using a number of different methods. They will ask you about any pain or sensitivity when biting down. You might not have necessarily made the connection between these sensations and your accident, since this pain or sensitivity might not be severe at first. They'll also check for clinical signs, such as minor damage to your teeth that you might not have noticed yourself—damage that can indicate a fracture further down the body of the tooth. They will generally also perform a radiograph. What happens once the root fracture has been comprehensively diagnosed?

Anterior Teeth

The treatment will depend on the tooth itself. A root fracture in an anterior tooth (your incisors and canine teeth) will usually require a root canal. This can help to save the tooth if it takes place promptly. An untreated vertical root fracture in an anterior tooth can sometimes mean that the damage has become too significant for a root canal to be effective. In this case, extraction followed by a prosthetic replacement might be the only course of action.

Posterior Teeth

Posterior teeth (premolars and molars) are a different matter. While anterior teeth typically only have a single root, posterior teeth are multi-rooted (although this isn't always the case with premolars). However, while a root canal can treat a vertical root fracture in a single-rooted tooth, a tooth with multiple roots may not require this option. Your dentist can perform a root resection, in which the compromised root is amputated, while still leaving the unaffected roots to securely anchor the tooth.

Just because you can't see any obvious damage after an accident that may have affected your teeth, it doesn't mean that the damage isn't there. Have your teeth inspected, since early diagnosis of a vertical root fracture can prevent loss of the tooth.

Contact a local emergency dentist if you have questions.