Your teeth are strong and can last a lifetime if taken care of properly. But even the best tended-to mouth can suffer from a broken tooth. Whether it’s chipped, fractured, cracked, or broken, don’t let yourself wonder what to do if you break a tooth. Call your dentist immediately. If left untreated, a broken or fractured tooth can lead to a whole host of other problems.
What to Do If You Break a Tooth
What Causes a Broken Tooth?
Despite the strength of our teeth, they can be easily damaged. No amount of brushing or flossing can prevent a tooth from breaking if you fall and hit your mouth. But brushing your teeth can definitely prevent cavities, which can cause a tooth to become brittle and break. Other common causes of tooth breaks include chomping down on hard foods, chewing on hard items (including ice), sports injuries, and facial trauma following an accident.
How Can You Tell If You Have a Broken Tooth?
You might not always know you’ve broken a tooth. Some chips and breaks don’t cause pain because they’re not significant enough. But more than likely, you will notice the damage once your cheeks or tongue brushes against the break.
If your tooth breaks and exposes the sensitive nerve hiding inside, you will definitely feel some pain. Even air or hot and cold food and drinks will cause pain if the nerve is exposed. Sometimes this pain is constant, but other times it comes in waves. Don’t be fooled by reduced pain and wonder what to do if you break a tooth. A cracked or damaged tooth should be seen promptly by a dentist to avoid further complications. If left untreated, an exposed nerve can become damaged and require a root canal.
There can also be damage you can’t easily spot. According to the American Association of Endodontists (AEE), your neighboring teeth can be damaged in an additional dental injury but go unnoticed until you visit a dentist.
What Should You Do Until You See Your Dentist?
If you can’t get to your dentist right away, there are a few things you can do to stop the pain and protect your tooth. First, apply pressure to any bleeding areas with gauze. Continue applying pressure to the damaged area for 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops. Apply ice to your mouth and lips to reduce any swelling, and ask your dentist and dental hygienist what pain medications they recommend. According to the AAE, patients should never use topical oral pain relievers or place aspirin on the damaged tooth.
How Will a Broken Tooth Be Treated?
There are several ways a tooth can break, and thus several ways to repair a broken tooth.
A minor chip on the tooth’s edge can be smoothed down or filled with a tooth-colored filling. A heavily fractured tooth may require more complex treatment, and a root canal might be necessary if the injury damaged the nerve. Sometimes a crack can be filled and bound together with tooth cement. A crown is often used to fix a seriously broken tooth. If a tooth is pushed sideways or up into its socket, your dentist can reposition and stabilize the tooth. Finally, in rare cases, your dentist may recommend that the broken tooth be removed and replaced with an implant or bridge.
According to the AAE, one of the easiest breaks to repair is a chip or fracture to your tooth’s crown. This is most commonly caused by food and can be repaired by simply reattaching the broken crown or placing a filling over the break. Dental crowns and bridges have come a long way and can now look identical to your surrounding teeth, so a damaged tooth won’t damage your smile.
What Long-Term Care Will Be Needed?
Depending on the break and if you’re able to see the dentist right away, long-term care for the damaged tooth might be minimal. If a tooth has been knocked out or dislodged from its canal, the biggest worry is root resorption. This happens when your body rejects the damaged tooth. Be sure to keep an eye out on the damaged area and return to your dentist for a follow-up appointment to make sure everything is healing correctly. If you notice the injured area is not healing properly, do the same thing you did when you were wondering what to do if you break a tooth: Call your dentist.
The most important thing to remember if you’ve broken or damaged a tooth is to call your dentist right away. In many cases, a tooth can be saved and restored to good health. If you need help repairing a damaged tooth and you live near Springfield, Missouri, contact Duff Family Dental to schedule an appointment. We offer a full line of general, cosmetic, pediatric, and restorative dentistry services. Call us at 417-501-8601 or contact us online today!