A broken tooth can occur unexpectedly and can be a distressing experience. When faced with a broken tooth, it is important to understand the urgency of the situation and seek immediate dental care. If you are prepared, you can minimize the damage to your tooth.
The Urgency of a Broken Tooth
A broken tooth is a dental emergency for several reasons:
Pain and Discomfort: A broken tooth can cause significant pain and discomfort, affecting your ability to eat, speak, or carry out everyday activities.
Increased Sensitivity: Another side effect of a broken tooth is increased sensitivity. The inner layers can become exposed, leading to heightened sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.
Risk of Infection: When you have a broken tooth, it creates an entry point for bacteria. As a result, this increases the risk of infection in the tooth pulp or surrounding tissues.
Aesthetics: A visible broken tooth can impact your smile and self-confidence. This can also affect your social meetings and well-being.
Common Causes of Broken Teeth
Trauma or Injury: Accidents, falls, sports-related mishaps, or direct blows to the face can result in a broken tooth.
Biting Down on Hard Objects: Chewing on hard substances like ice, hard candies, or unpopped popcorn kernels can exert excessive force on the teeth, leading to fractures.
Tooth Decay: Deep cavities weaken the tooth structure, making it more susceptible to breakage.
Large Fillings: Teeth with large fillings are more prone to fractures. This is because the filling can weaken the remaining tooth structure.
Steps to Take in an Emergency
Rinse and Clean: If you have a broken tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any debris or blood. Also, use a soft cloth or gauze to apply gentle pressure if there is bleeding.
Manage Pain and Swelling: Pain relievers and cold compresses can help reduce pain and lower swelling.
Preserve Broken Pieces: If possible, keep any broken tooth fragments in a clean container with milk or saliva. The dentist may use them to assess the situation and restore the tooth.
Contact Your Dentist: Call your dentist as soon as possible and explain the situation. They will also provide guidance on whether to come in for an emergency exam.
Options for a Broken Tooth
Treatment for a broken tooth depends on the extent and location of the fracture. Potential treatment options also include:
Dental Bonding: For minor chips or fractures, dental bonding can repair the tooth. This resin restores the tooth’s look and function.
Dental Crown: If the tooth has a large fracture or damage, your dentist may suggest a dental crown. The crown covers and protects the tooth structure, restoring its strength and look.
Root Canal Treatment: If the fracture extends into the tooth’s pulp, you may need root canal therapy to remove infected or damaged tissue and restore the tooth’s health.
Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where there is a lot of damage, you may need a tooth extraction. Replacement options can also restore your smile and oral function. For example, you can try dental implants, bridges, or dentures.