What To Do When You Have A Broken Tooth
There are several ways a tooth can break. You might be chewing on something hard like candy or ice and feel something crack, and an entire piece could break off due to a blow to the face. Or, if you have tooth decay, the resulting weakness in the enamel can significantly increase your chances of a break or crack as well as grinding or clenching your teeth frequently. Broken teeth often come with some pain and discomfort and the inconvenience of needing to schedule an appointment with your dentist. With Complete Dental Care, you don’t have to panic. There are many ways we can treat a broken tooth and bring the look and function of your teeth back to normal.
Types of Broken Teeth
- Cracked Tooth: This is a vertical crack from the tooth’s occlusal (biting surface) to or beyond your gum line.
- Craze Lines: also known as hairline cracks. These thin and typically pain-free cracks appear on the surface (enamel) of your teeth.
- Fractured Cusp: These are usually not painful. These fractures form around a dental filling.
- Split Teeth: A fracture that goes all the way from your tooth’s surface to below your gum line, splitting your tooth into two parts.
- Vertical Root Fracture: These cracks start at the bottom of the root and go all the way to the tooth’s biting surface.
Not all cracks are necessarily dental emergencies. You may notice a break but are experiencing no pain or other symptoms. It is always a good idea to see your dentist when you notice them, as you can never fully predict if a small crack will become something more serious before your next checkup.
What to do Right When Part of a Tooth Breaks Off
For more serious breaks or fractures where a portion of the tooth chips off, it is essential to schedule an appointment with us as soon as possible. Below are steps to take right after a break occurs and before you can get treatment.
- Collect the broken-off pieces: Gather any tooth fragments and rinse them with lukewarm water, especially if there is dirt or other matter on them.
- Store broken tooth fragments: If possible, store the fragments in milk or the cheek of the mouth. These two methods of keeping the pieces moist are typically more effective than storing them in water or saline and increase the chances of successful treatment.
- Treat any bleeding: Use sterile gauze or cloth to address any bleeding that occurs.
- Address pain: Use a cool compress like ice to help reduce any swelling and address minor pain. Treat more severe pain with over-the-counter pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
Treatments for a Broken Tooth
Your dentist will be able to diagnose your injury properly and may recommend one of the following treatments:
- Dental filling or bonding
- Dental cap or crown
- Dental veneers
- Root canal therapy
The right treatment really depends on the location of the tooth in the mouth and other factors such as the level of decay in the tooth. Some treatments are more involved, and it could be that one treatment is tried, but then another becomes necessary later on.
With all of these potential paths to recovery, a broken tooth can feel overwhelming. By taking a few smart steps and then getting the help of your dentist for the proper treatment, a complete and satisfying recovery is often possible. No matter what treatment is decided, treatment will help mitigate the risk of future infection or bacterial spread caused by the crack and get your teeth back to good health. If you have any questions call us today!