Any accident that resulted in a hard smack to the jaw is a cause for concern. One of the first things you probably did was inspect your teeth in the mirror, hoping that they remained intact. When there's no visible damage, and any pain quickly subsides, you probably thought that you escaped injury. Not all injuries are immediately evident, however, and when a tooth begins to hurt in the days after your accident, it's a clear sign that the accident was more serious than you first realized. You may need to get emergency dental care for damaged dental pulp.
Trauma to Your Dental Pulp
An accident can cause internal injuries to your body, and it's the same with your teeth. Just because they escaped any structural damage doesn't mean that they haven't been affected. When a tooth begins to hurt after an accident, its internal nerve (the dental pulp) may have been affected. You may be experiencing pulpitis, which is when the dental pulp has become inflamed due to an infection or trauma.
Reversible and Irreversible
Pulpitis is divided into two categories — reversible and irreversible. They often both result in severe discomfort, which is why the onset of pulpitis can require emergency dental care. Although your dental pulp may recover without assistance, this is a considerable gamble, as your discomfort can easily worsen. It can also be that despite appearances, your tooth requires a dental restoration. It's important to get to a dentist as soon as possible.
Pain Relief and Restoration
The emergency dentist will assess your tooth, looking for any damage that may not have been visible during your own visual inspection. A local anesthetic can be provided to manage your discomfort. Any structural damage to the tooth will require restoration work, although this is likely to be minor, such as using dental bonding to repair any surface damage.
Monitoring the Tooth
Once the initial discomfort and damage have been addressed, your dental pulp may be able to repair itself, but you will be advised to be mindful of any lingering pain, or pain that quickly escalates once again. This can indicate that your pulpitis may have been severe, and is in fact irreversible. In this case, you will generally require a root canal to remove the dying pulp. Root canal treatment is only performed when it becomes evident that the pulp is no longer vital, which is why it's often not performed until adequate monitoring time has elapsed.
Internal damage to a tooth after an accident can be extremely uncomfortable, which is why any injury that may have affected your teeth should be professionally inspected.