© 2016 Australian Dental Association. Trauma to the permanent teeth involves not only the teeth but also the pulp, the periodontal ligament, alveolar bone, gingiva and other associated structures. There are many variations in the types of injuries with varying severity and often a tooth may sustain more than one injury at the same time. In more severe trauma cases, there are many different cellular systems of mineralized hard and unmineralized soft tissues involved, each with varying potential for healing. Furthermore, the responses of the different tissues may be interrelated and dependent on each other. Hence, healing subsequent to dental trauma has long been known to be very complex. Because of this complexity, tissue responses and the consequences following dental trauma have been confusing and puzzling for many clinicians. In this review, the tissue responses are described under the tissue compartments typically involved following dental trauma: the pulp, periradicular and associated soft tissues. The factors involved in the mechanisms of trauma are analysed for their effects on the tissue responses. A thorough understanding of the possible tissue responses is imperative for clinicians to overcome the confusion and manage dental trauma adequately and conservatively in order to minimize the consequences following trauma.