Besides fracturing immature adult teeth, the aforementioned dislodging or knocking out completely are some things that young people have to endure sometimes, unfortunately. However, modern dentistry has so much more to offer now than it ever did, thanks to science, technology and really, really smart people; so the level of treatment, restoration, or therapy only depends on the severity of damage done. The good news is that something can always be done.

If a young adult tooth were to be minorly dislodged (which means moved out of its natural position, remember?), extensive treatment may not even be necessary. The tooth may be only monitored over a period of time, possibly with minor adjustments made here and there, to ensure it continues to grow and develop normally. A tooth severely dislodged, surgery may have to be performed to restore stability and strength. In both of these cases, though, the tooth’s natural potential for strength will never be reached because of the injury, no matter what kind of treatment is performed.

If this immature tooth has been knocked out completely, if it can be put back into its socket and stabilized within one hour and watched closely by a dentist for a few weeks, chances are good that it can be saved. Changes in the tooth’s appearance and feeling will be monitored as well, and if any signs of decay or infection arise, then measures — particularly apexification — may have to be taken to keep it alive and well. If the tooth has been out for longer than an hour, it has probably dried out and must be filled with medication, put back into the socket, and re-stabilized as a “dead” tooth.

In either of those cases, the tooth is likely to not last as long as the others, in which case other options (say, an implant) will have to be discussed with the endodontist.

Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles

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