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A Guide Soft Tissue Trauma

If you are honest with yourself, do you actually know what is meant by ‘soft tissue trauma’? No? Thought not. Not many people do, but in actual fact soft tissue trauma injuries require emergency dental assistance and can cause unnecessary pain, suffering and complications further down the line if they are just left.

So what exactly can be defined as soft tissue trauma?

Soft tissue wounds are cuts, bruises and lacerations that occur on things such as the tongue and on the cheek and lips.

A lot of the time, if there has been trauma to the face and a tooth has been knocked out or chipped and cracked, it is often the likelihood that there will also be damage to these areas because they are close to the teeth and are sensitive areas.

One of the immediate reasons why damage to these soft tissue areas needs emergency care is because they have strong blood supplies and tend to bleed heavily, so a lot of blood can be lost even if it is only a relatively small incident.

Damage to the tongue, particularly, can be serious. This is because it has a lot of nerve endings and blood vessels which means that a lot of blood can be lost if it is damaged badly.

What happens if I’m bleeding heavily?

An emergency dentist needs to be sought if the bleeding is heavy. Alternatively, you could try A&E, as heavy bleeding is classed as serious and needs treating without delay. In the meantime, you need to help yourself by stemming the blood flow. This can be done by firmly pressing against the area with a cloth or cotton wool to stop the blood from rushing out of the wounded area. If you know you will be waiting a while before you see a professional, however, it is advised that you do a few more things to help stop the bleeding. You should rinse out the mouth if you can, as this will allow you to spit out the blood that is languishing in your mouth, and it will also get rid of any debris. It is advised that you rinse your mouth with warm water.

What happens when I’ve arrived at the dentist?

As soon as you have arrived at the dentist, if you have not managed to stop the bleed from your mouth yourself, this will be the first task that the dentist will undertake. They will stop the bleed and then proceed to check out the tissue damage. It is not uncommon for x-rays to be done as this will help the dentist see what kind of injury and damage there is and consequently work out the best course of action to rectify the situation.

After you have sustained a soft tissue injury, a dentist will also check for other possible problems that may go undetected  – concussion and jaw injuries for instance. For example, if you have damaged your cheek and tongue in a collision, it is highly likely that your jaw has been impacted too – this will need checking out to avoid any problems developing further down the line.

Your dentist will also check for signs of concussion as this is extremely common and goes hand in hand with soft tissue injuries. Most people who have concussion tend to come round relatively quickly and of their own accord, but serious concussion can be dangerous and can actually cause potential problems with regards the health of the brain. In the worst case, it can be life threatening.

With this in mind, an emergency dentist or a doctor will analyse and look for symptoms to ensure that everything is okay and the patient is stable – yet another example of the importance of seeking emergency treatment straight away.

After this, the dentist will then begin to sterilise the wound and suture the cut if it is big enough. The sutures will more than likely be dissolvable, meaning once the cut has healed, you will not need to return to the dentist to have them taken out.

If the wound proves to be a serious one, however, your dentist may decide that specialist treatment is required and may refer you to soft tissue specialists to get their opinion. If a dentist thinks there may potentially be a lot of scarring from the wound, cosmetic specialists may too be needed to provide surgery to minimise the appearance of scars.

Burns

It is not just a blow to the face and consequent bleeding that constitutes soft tissue trauma, burns from food and drink are also a common complaint that may need treating by an emergency dentist.

A mouth burn can be excruciating, and without emergency care and treatment from a trained professional, may prevent you from eating and drinking and may take a while to fully recover from. Because of this it is essential that treatment is sought immediately. The dentist will initially look at the seriousness of the burns and decide what course of action would be the most suitable with regards the healing process. Unbeknown to many people, even though the burn is serious in itself, it is the after effects that the dentist will be more concerned about. For example, if you badly burn your mouth, blisters will more than likely form which will make it difficult for you to even open the mouth without it hurting. What makes the healing part difficult when you have burn blisters is that eating and drinking will irritate them and consequently it will take longer for them to heal – which is not ideal because everyone needs to eat and drink.

Your dentist will probably tell you that so long as you are careful when eating and drinking, the blisters should gradually go away of their own accord – but it may be painful for a time. After a burn to the mouth, however, it is vital that you regularly attend check-ups for a considerable amount of time after the incident has occurred. Why? The reason is because if the burn area is not healing as it should, it may get infected, which could cause a lot of discomfort, not to mention the chance of it spreading to other areas of the mouth.

It doesn’t matter what kind of soft tissue trauma injury you may have sustained, only emergency treatment will do.