Having one of your teeth suddenly break as you bite into some food can be a frightening experience. Yet it is one of the most common dental problems we treat at Glow Dental. Here, we will guide you through what to do if you have a broken tooth and the treatments that are available to get your smile looking like new.
Common Causes of A Broken Tooth
When a tooth breaks, it usually happens while biting into hard food such as nuts or sweets. However, the underlying cause is a little more complicated. Healthy teeth can handle even the hardest food, so if your tooth breaks, it is a sign that it has become weakened. The weakening of a tooth could be due to decay or an old filling working loose. In older patients, it can just be down to wear and tear. Sometimes a tooth can break as a result of an accident, which can be particularly common among those who play impact sports.
The Effect of A Broken Tooth
The impact of a broken tooth in terms of appearance and discomfort depends on the size and type of break. If a small piece is chipped off, you might not experience any pain, while with a more extensive break, the pulp and dentin will be exposed, and this will cause toothache. Left untreated, the broken area will be exposed to bacteria, leading to increased risk of infection and more serious dental problems further down the line.
Treating a Broken Tooth
If you have a broken tooth, it is important to react quickly and book an appointment with your dentist. If possible, collect the broken pieces and place them in a clean container to show to the dentist. Gently rinse your mouth to remove any remaining debris. Avoid hard foods and try not to bite down on the tooth if possible. You can take over the counter pain medicine to relieve any discomfort.
Dental Treatment For a Broken Tooth
Your dentist will need to take a look at the broken tooth to understand the type and size of the damage to recommend the most appropriate treatment. A small crack can be resolved quickly and easily using a coloured filling, while for a larger break, it might be more appropriate to fit a crown over what remains of the tooth. Your dentist will also check for any underlying problems such as decay, which might have caused the tooth to break in the first place.
Common Questions in Relation to Chipped & Broken Teeth
When a tooth breaks, it is usually due to either an injury, for example when playing sport, or because the tooth was weakened, most commonly due to decay. You can reduce the risks from accidents by wearing a mouthguard during sporting activities. Decay can be avoided by following good dental hygiene practice, including brushing and flossing after meals and keeping those routine appointments with the hygienist.
If the break is severe or causes significant pain or bleeding, we would consider it a dental emergency. The same applies if the break has left sharp edges exposed, as these can cause further injury and trauma to the inside of the mouth. However, if you break a tooth, you should always book an appointment with your dentist and seek treatment as soon as possible, even if the break or fracture seems minor and is not causing discomfort.
Even a seemingly innocuous break is liable to expose the dentine inside the tooth. This provides an access point for bacteria and can lead to tooth decay. Ultimately, one small crack can be the trigger for discomfort and the need for more serious dental treatment further down the line. The sooner you get a broken tooth treated, the more straightforward that treatment will be.
A broken tooth needs specialised attention from a dentist. Although there are companies selling home repair kits online, we would not recommend these. There are, however, some steps you can take to minimise any discomfort and to prevent the situation from getting any worse. Rinse the affected area and try to keep it clean by eating food on the other side of your mouth if possible. This will reduce the likelihood of pain if the inside of the tooth has been exposed, and will also protect the tooth from bacterial infection.