Assume you are eating a piece of ice or candy, and then you notice you are biting something that is hard and it is not dissolving like the rest of the ice or candy. You decide to take it out using your fingers, and then you notice that it is a piece of broken tooth.
Although we read about how hard or tough the enamel of the tooth is, it also has its weaknesses. You can easily get a chipped tooth once you receive a blow to the face, you fall face first, you have cavities that cause the teeth to be weak, if you have large amalgam fillings that cannot support the remaining enamel because it is old, or you bite something hard really fast. Once you realize that you have a broken tooth, there is no need for alarm because there are many ways on how the chipped tooth can be fixed.
Once a tooth breaks or chips, it may not cause any pain. However, the sharp area will affect the tongue which passes there from time to time. Big chips that break from the teeth can be painful because the nerves in the tooth will be damaged, but small chips are not painful. When the nerve endings in the dentin are exposed, it can be extremely uncomfortable especially when you take cold or hot drinks.
What to do
Your dentist should be the number one contact when you have a broken tooth. Your dentist will help you figure out if a cavity caused the break and if there is any danger on the nerve of the tooth. If the nerve ending of the tooth is damaged, the only remedy is a root canal treatment.
Until you get to the office of the dentist, do the following:
- Use a piece of gauze as you apply pressure on the bleeding area for 10 minutes until the bleeding stops. If bleeding continues, use a tea bag to stop the bleeding.
- Use warm water to rinse your mouth.
- Use a cold pack on the cheeks or the area of the broken tooth to relieve pain and reduce swelling.
- If you are not able to head to your dentist for one reason or another, cover the broken tooth with a temporary dental cement which can be gotten from a local drug store.
- Purchase an OTC pain reliever.
You cannot treat a fractured tooth at home; you can only be assisted by a dentist on this one. The tooth might seem fine, but it hurts when the temperature in the mouth changes or when you eat something cold or hot. If your toothaches all the time, you might be having a damaged blood vessel or nerve ending. Once you notice this level of pain, it is a serious sign that requires you to visit your dentist.
What the dentist will do
There are different treatments available for different types of breaks and fractures that require different treatments. They include:
Cracked tooth: this kind of fracture involves the chewing of the tooth surface to the nerve. The crack spreads but the pieces stay in position. The filling material can be used to repair the crack, but more often, the tooth will be crowned to prevent any extension of the crack from happening. If the nerve and the other live tissues are damaged, a root canal will be administered.
Minor cracks: this involves surface cracks that affect the enamel, which is the outer white surface of the tooth. Treatment is not necessary for minor cracks. However, the rough spots may be polished by your dentist.
Chips: treatment is not necessary for minor chips. Your dentist may suggest using filling material to repair the damaged area to avoid it from getting worse and making the tooth feel and look better. If the tooth gets a small chip, a polish may be done on the chipped area to smooth it out.
Serious breaks: the nerve gets exposed because these breaks go deep into the tooth. The net effect is a tooth that is painful and sensitive. Bleeding of the tooth is obvious at this stage, and root canal treatment is the recommended way to remove the nerve that is exposed and crown the tooth to restore it to normal functions for you to eat and drink with ease
Broken cusp: the pointed surface of the teeth are referred to as cusps. When a tooth breaks off at this point, the pulp ( live tissues that include the nerve endings) is not affected, and there is no pain caused. The tooth’s shape may be restored by the dentist, but more often, a crown or an overlay will be done.
Split tooth: this can be seen when the tooth splits into two vertical pieces. Since the teeth like the molars have many roots, one root can be maintained which will then be covered by a crown. To achieve this, the root canal treatment will be done. Then the dentist will remove any damaged roots that cannot be kept. Finally, the crown will be used to cover the root and replace the tooth. If the root cannot be saved, the tooth will be of no use.
Split root or vertical breaks: cracks in this type of crack start from the root of the tooth and go up towards the surface of the teeth. Since the breaks are painful because of the inflamed gums, the tooth will be removed.
Decay-induced break: crumbled and broken teeth in this scenario is as a result of a cavity that weakened the tooth from inside out. Your dentist will perform an evaluation and recommend the best way tooth restoration will be done. In some cases, the tooth will be removed if the decay goes down to the jaw bone.
For more information on broken and fractured teeth, call Dr. Marc Lazare today at 646-846-2465 or log onto Dr. Marc Lazare’s website to check on the many more dental procedures offered at our office in New York.