The dental profession allows for a dynamic, challenging, rewarding, and interactive workplace. Dental professionals may provide a variety of oral treatments, which can include restorative, endodontic, periodontal, esthetic, and oral surgery/trauma cases. As a practitioner, clinicians may be required to work with many different specialities within the dental and medical community to ensure the appropriate standard of care for their patients are met. Dental traumas often require a multidisciplinary team to ensure effective treatment. Dental/oral trauma are facial injuries that involve the mouth including teeth, lips, gums, tongue, and jawbones. Oral trauma can vary significantly, with minor cases including an enamel chip and more severe cases such as maxillofacial and mandible fractures or an avulsed/displaced tooth.
(Namdev, 2014). Facial traumas that result in fractures are often associated with esthetic, masticatory and further medical concerns. Clinicians have the responsibility to acknowledge, distinguish, and either appropriately treat or refer patients with acute oral traumatic injuries; as dictated by the complexity of the trauma and the practitioners experience, education, and knowledge.
Serious complications from facial traumas including neurological manifestations, suspected loss of consciousness, vomiting, or a compromised airway should seek immediate evaluation from a physician. (Guideline, 2012). Dental traumas are a major oral health concern and are associated with pain and discomfort.
(Namdev, 2014). These types of traumas are often a result from daily activities such as falling, traffic accidents, violence, sports, and during childhood while motor skills are still being developed. Due to the nature of these traumas and that optimal treatment requires immediate assessment, dentists have an ethical obligation to ensure that they have appropriate protocols and arrangements for emergency dental care. (Guideline, 2012). Until dental school, I did not understand the impact and the complexity that may be required for dental trauma treatment.
This past summer one of my friends who happens to be a 2020 MD student here at the University of Alberta fell while rock climbing. This event ended up knocking out her 22 and displacing her 21. The treatment process has been ongoing for the past five months, and has required the collaboration of numerous dental specialists including both an emergency and general dentist, oral surgeon, prosthodontists, and endodontists. By the time this process is complete it will take approximately two years in total.
This is due to many factors including the wait time for healing of injuries, bone grafting, and implants. It is important to note that in smaller communities a general dentist may be required to deal with the complexities of these types of situations. The patient, after the initial treatment in Calgary was placed up in a northern community without any specialists. As a result, the general dentist was monitoring the patients recovery over a six-week period. The relationship between oral health and overall health has only recently become more recognized in the healthcare community. This rock climbing event however, unfortunate, gave the MD student a new perspective on the importance of dental care.Dental traumas are conditions that involve the oral cavity, more seriously avulsed teeth and maxillofacial/mandibular fractures. As a future clinician, it is important to recognize and understand the appropriate course of action required for the treatment of dental traumas.
Dental traumas are typically a result of common physical activities, which can lead to esthetic and mastication concerns; and requires immediate care for appropriate treatment. Dentists should be prepared to refer or potentially deal with these time sensitive cases. Dental traumas often require a multidisciplinary approach; this may include multiple dental specialists and/or physicians when more serious complications occur.