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Lateral luxation

Summary

Lateral luxation is a traumatic injury to teeth where the tooth has moved laterally. Usually the crown of the tooth moves in the direction of the inside or the mouth, or it can move out towards the lip. There is also almost always a fracture of the bone around the tooth due to movement of the root.

Features

  • Displaced tooth usually towards to palate or tongue.
  • Occlusal disturbance - the tooth may get in the way when biting down
  • Immobility - the tooth can often lock firmly in this displaced position
  • Painful - this can be a painful injury
  • Cold insensitive - often the tooth gives no response to cold as the nerve has ruptured in the traum

Lateral luxation injuries can occur in adult teeth and deciduous/primary teeth. 

In adult teeth the tooth should be replaced back into its original position and then splinted (secured to the adjacent teeth) for 2 weeks. If the nerve of the tooth dies then a root canal treatment may be necessary.

In deciduous/baby teeth if there is no disturbance of the bite then often the tooth can be allowed to move back itself. Minor disturbance to the bite can be adjusted by your dentist. Severe displacements may require repositioning or extraction

Image by Noah Hickman

Home care advice

In general all luxation injuries need to be treated as a dental emergency and a prompt dental visit is necessary. A tooth that has been displaced in its socket generally should be repositioned as soon as possible back to its original position. This is likely to be extremely painful and best performed by a dentist under local anaesthetic.

Lateral luxations tend to be firm and not easily moved we therefore do not recommend trying to reposition the tooth yourself.

In decidous/baby teeth a minor luxation with no bite disturbance or swelling/pain should be manageable with the measures below.

To keep the area clean in the mean time

  • Soft diet and avoid biting on area
  • Brush the area as normal if possible
  • Use a chlorhexidine mouthwash (in children use by dabbing area with cotton wool socked in the mouthwash)
  • Attend a dentist as soon as possible
  • Over the counter pain relief - Paracetamol (or Paracetamol with Codeine) and NSAIDs
  • Topical gels may provide some pain relief

If there is pain/swelling in the gum overlying the root of the tooth or swelling in your face then contact a dentist to discuss treatment.

Any damage to the lips or gums should be cleaned with salty water or chlorhexidine mouthwash (on cotton wool if necessary)

PLEASE NOTE ANY FAST SPREADING SWELLING IN YOUR FACE OR NECK REQUIRES IMMEDIATE ATTENTION AS IT CAN BECOME A MEDICAL EMERGENCY

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Written by Andrew Bain BDS MJDF (RCS Eng)
May 5, 2020