During surgery or emergency care, intubation for anesthesia is a lifesaving necessity. It’s critical to maintain an open airway, and the tube allows for proper regulation of breathing during anesthesia.
Unfortunately, this necessity can sometimes come with unforeseen consequences. Injuries can happen during the process, and, according to a new study, tooth damage is the most common injury related to surgical intubation. That’s based on data from closed claims against anesthesiologists.
Fortunately, reconstructive dentistry can repair the damage.
Why Intubation Damages Teeth
The intubation process means that a tube has to be inserted through the mouth into the trachea. The trachea is the breathing tube, and it’s separate from the esophagus, which leads to the stomach. In order to enter the trachea, the tube has to curve through the mouth in a path which brings the tube close to the teeth.
Intubation is a challenging process for anesthesiologists, and with the path of the tube near the teeth, the teeth get hit sometimes, especially during procedures where a patient is injured or ill, needing intubation in an emergency situation where conditions are less than idea.
Types of Tooth Damage During Intubation
When the tube strikes the teeth, it will most often cause chipping. It isn’t just natural teeth that can be chipped, it can also chip dental restorations and cosmetic dentistry.
But sometimes the damage is more serious. It can cause cracked teeth. Teech can be knocked loose, or even knocked out.
Repairing Damaged Teeth
The good news is that the damage is not irreparable. We can repair teeth chipped by intubation using dental bonding or veneers. Teeth that are cracked may require a dental crown to repair. If the crack penetrated the pulp chamber, we might recommend root canal therapy. And if your restorations are damaged, we can replace them.
A loose tooth can sometimes be saved. We will splint it to neighboring teeth, holding it in place while it heals. If a loose tooth doesn’t heal or if a tooth was knocked out, we can replace the lost teeth with dental implants.
Have Your Teeth Been Damaged?
Tooth damage is the most common claim made against anesthesiologists, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually common. It’s unusual to have teeth damaged by intubation, but it does happen. Fortunately, this type of tooth damage can be repaired. If you are looking to repair teeth damaged by intubation or other causes, we can help.