Restorative » Broken Teeth
- Teeth are remarkably strong, but they are susceptible to being chipped, cracked (fractured) or broken because of:
- Biting down on something hard
- Being hit in the face or mouth
- Having dental cavities (decay) that weaken the tooth
- When a tooth chips or breaks, it may not hurt. However, your tongue usually feels the sharp area quite quickly. Minor tooth fractures usually don’t cause pain, but if a large piece of the tooth breaks off, it may hurt if the nerve inside the tooth becomes exposed and/or damaged. If this tooth is then exposed to air, or hot or cold foods or drinks, it can be extremely uncomfortable.Pain from a broken or cracked tooth may be constant or may come and go. Many people feel pain when they chew because chewing puts pressure on the tooth.
What You Can Do:
Cracked (Fractured) Teeth
There is no way to treat a cracked tooth at home. You need to see us. Sometimes the tooth looks fine, but it hurts only when you eat or when the temperature in your mouth changes (because you drank something hot or cold, for example). If your tooth hurts all the time, it may have a damaged nerve or blood vessels. This is a serious warning sign.
If you have a broken tooth, you need to see us as soon as possible. We can figure out if the break was caused by tooth decay or tooth trauma, and if the tooth’s nerve is compromised. A damaged nerve usually will require root canal treatment. In the meantime, it may help if you
- Rinse your mouth well with warm water.
- Apply pressure with a piece of gauze on any bleeding areas for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. If this doesn’t work, use a tea bag with pressure on the area to stop the bleeding.
- Apply a cold pack to the cheek or lips over the broken tooth. This will help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
- If you can’t get to us right away, cover the part of the tooth that is in your mouth with temporary dental cement. You can find this at your local pharmacy.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever if you have pain.
What we can do:
There are several types of tooth fractures and breaks, each of which requires different treatments. These include:
- Minor cracks – Also called “craze lines,” these are surface cracks that affect only the outer white surface of the tooth, called the enamel. Minor cracks rarely need treatment. However, we may lightly polish the area to smooth out any rough spots.
- Cracked tooth – This type of fracture involves the whole tooth, from the chewing surface all the way down to the nerve. The pieces remain in place, but the crack gradually spreads. Cracks can sometimes be repaired with composite (white) filling material, but more often will need a Cerec or a crown to prevent the crack from getting worse. If the pulp (nerve and other live tissues) is damaged, you may need a root canal treatment as well.
- Chips – Minor chips don’t always need treatment. We may suggest repairing the damage with cosmetic bonding material to prevent it from getting worse or to make the tooth look and feel better. If the chip is very small, we may polish and smooth out the chipped area.
- Broken cusp – These breaks affect the pointed chewing surfaces (the cusps) of the teeth. They usually do not affect the pulp and are unlikely to cause much pain. We may repair the damage to restore the tooth’s shape. Frequently, however, a Cerec or crown will be required.
- Serious breaks – These breaks may go deep enough to expose the nerve. They almost always cause the tooth to hurt and be sensitive. Usually, the broken part of the tooth will bleed. You will need root canal treatment to remove the exposed nerve and probably a crown to restore the tooth to normal function so you can eat and chew properly.
- Vertical breaks or split root – These cracks start in the root of the tooth and extend upward toward the chewing surface. These breaks are often painful because the area around the root may be inflamed or infected. In most cases, the tooth will have to be removed and should be replaced with a dental impalnt or bridge.
- Decay-induced break – In this case, the tooth has broken or crumbled because a cavity weakened it from the inside out. We will evaluate the cavity and recommend the best way to restore the tooth. In some cases, if the decay is extensive the tooth may require root canal treatment, and Cerec or crown.