What Does a Bruised Tooth Look Like and How Does It Form?
Whenever someone is suffering from a toothache, our first instinct is to direct them to the nearest dental office. But do a bruised tooth and a bit of pain constitute a dental emergency at Simply Teeth? Not necessarily!
Of course, most people are unable to distinguish between different kinds of toothaches. Moreover, they usually assume that they can’t bruise a tooth any more than they could bruise any other bone in their body! But think about it — when we accidentally kick a coffee table, we feel that pain in our bones, right? Still, our shins don’t bruise, or at least we’re not able to see any discoloration.
Our teeth, on the other hand, are much more visible. Still, if we hit them hard enough, they’ll hurt just as much if not more than our shins. After all, beneath the surface layer of enamel and the dentine underneath it, we do have both nerve endings and blood vessels. That’s how our body delivers nutrients to the gums to keep our pearly whites strong and healthy. With that in mind, we thought we should take a moment to talk about what it means to have a tooth bruise.
How Does a Tooth Bruise Develop?
When we hurt our teeth, whether by biting down on a hard object or by sustaining an external injury, our gums are there to absorb the shock. More specifically, the ligaments that hold the injured tooth will cushion the blow. But even if the tooth doesn’t shatter upon impact, that process is not painless.
Obviously, our teeth aren’t soft — or at least they shouldn’t be — so they can’t simply compress and bounce back from physical trauma. Being hit sends them crashing into the gums for a moment, which often sprains the ligaments around the teeth. Moreover, it may cause the capillaries in the gums to burst, dispersing blood in the area. The excess drains through the root of the nearest tooth, giving it a disconcerting pinkish tint.
Still, having a pink bruise on your tooth isn’t necessarily something you’d need to worry about. The rosy hue just means that the impact was recent so the discoloration should clear up within a few days. However, if the injury doesn’t heal naturally, the tooth may turn gray. That particular shade should prompt anyone to seek emergency dental care.
Dark bruising may indicate that the tooth is structurally compromised. After all, if it’s turned gray, the blood vessels inside its core probably aren’t delivering nutrients anymore. Basically, the tooth is already dead, even if we can still feel the pain. Namely, just because the blood vessels got disconnected, doesn’t mean the nerve endings in and around the tooth aren’t fully functional.
In any case, while a slight pinkish tint may not be anything to worry about, a gray stain might mean that the tooth is already decaying from the inside. But of course, the bruise itself isn’t the only symptom of this condition.
Other Bruised Tooth Symptoms
Now that we know what a bruised tooth looks like, let’s talk about other symptoms that accompany the discoloration. Aside from the general discoloration in the area, the most common symptoms of a bruised tooth are:
- A localized feeling of soreness
- Lingering sensitivity in the area, particularly when biting down
- Redness and other signs of inflammation
- Bleeding gums
According to a Healthline article on the subject, a more generalized toothache that affects a wider area might indicate that the condition has developed into an infection. It would be prudent to seek emergency dental services as soon as we notice a bruised tooth progress in that direction. Even so, not every toothache necessarily leads to infection.
In fact, most of the time, this condition goes away on its own after a while. So let’s talk about how we can make that recovery process as quick and painless as possible.
How Long Does a Bruised Tooth Take to Heal?
As we have previously established, the recovery time for a bruised tooth depends on many factors. If there are no complications, any discoloration should clear up within a few days. However, if the stain darkens and becomes desaturated, the patient may discover that their pain isn’t going away any time soon.
How to Reduce Pain and Speed Up Recovery Time?
In any case, there are several things you can do to reduce the pain while the bruise is healing. First and foremost, you should give the tooth in question a break. Overusing it will make the pain last longer, so try chewing on the other side of your mouth. Alternatively, avoid hard foods altogether.
Additionally, you’ll want to steer clear of hot, cold, or sweet foods and beverages. If the impact has resulted in a chipped tooth as well as a bruise, the nerves inside the tooth may have become exposed. In that case, strong sensations will aggravate the broken tooth.
The pain should fade a day or two after you hit the tooth. However, if it lasts any longer than that or becomes truly unbearable, we recommend using over-the-counter painkillers. Ibuprofen and acetaminophen should reduce most signs of infections, such as swelling, pain, and fever.
Additionally, try to give up any other habits that may worsen your symptoms. For example, if you tend to clench or grind your teeth in your sleep, use a mouthguard. Otherwise, get used to waking up with the most horrible toothaches and headaches.
So knowing all that, at what point could we declare that the situation has progressed into a tooth emergency?
When Should You Book an Emergency Dentist Appointment?
As long as your bruised tooth is pink, it’s safe to assume that the discoloration is a result of burst capillaries in the area. However, once it starts turning gray, it’s only a matter of time before the blood vessels inside the tooth become unviable. In addition to that, there is one other sign that you should visit a walk-in dentist as soon as possible.
Namely, if you can wiggle the tooth in its socket, it means that the impact that caused the bruise also loosened the ligaments that were holding the tooth in place. Most dentists use wire, resin, or nylon thread to create a splint for the tooth, immobilizing it while the ligaments heal.
If the pulpy core of the tooth has been compromised, they may perform a standard root canal surgery. After extracting the core of the bruised tooth, they simply replace it with a filling or dental crown. Thanks to the nerve-numbing medicine they’ll apply, the patient won’t feel any pain during the procedure. Ultimately, the bruise should clear away after the dentist clears out the content of the tooth.