Broken Teeth

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Despite the very strong layer of enamel on the outside of your teeth they can still suffer cracks, fractures and chips.  This can occur when you receive a strong blow to the head, when you bite down on something very hard or as a result of a sporting accident.  Having a broken tooth can be extremely painful.  If a part of the tooth chips off then it is likely to expose the nerve, resulting in real pain and tooth sensitivity.  You will need to get a broken tooth looked at immediately, as deep fractures simply widen over time with sustained use, making them worse and harder to treat effectively.  If you find your tooth is painful when you are chewing it is likely that you have sustained a deep fracture.  Some instances of broken teeth don’t lead to deep fractures or large chips, and so these might not need immediate treatment.  These small fractures or chips are normally unnoticeable and won’t be seen by others. 

Broken teeth can cause a lot of pain, and can lead to discomfort in your appearance.  Most people opt to have a broken tooth capped and make it look just like new.  Cavities can also cause your teeth to fracture, and it is important that you maintain regular check-ups and get any problems treated. 

Broken Teeth Treatments

It is important that you see your dentist quickly after sustaining a broken tooth.  The pain you are likely to be in will probably ensure that you will do so anyway.  The pain and swelling can be alleviated temporarily by the use of a cold compress and any bleeding can be quenched by applying gauze and pressure to the area.  The type of break you have sustained will influence the treatment that is necessary. 

Small cracks

These are also known as ‘craze lines’ and rarely need any treatment other than possible polishing of the area to smooth out any visible lines. 

Chipped teeth

Small chips won’t need to be treated, and if they are then they are generally filled with a white coloured substance.  This is most likely to be done if the chip is near to the front of your mouth in order to keep your smile.  For very small tooth chips your dentist is most likely to sand down the area so that it is smooth. 

Fractures to the cusp/chewing surface of the tooth

These will likely get worse if left untreated.  The surface is normally filed down and the shape of the tooth restored, sometimes dental crowns are made of porcelain or metal is also added to the top of the tooth.

Large fractures

Large fractures will cause you a lot of pain, either sporadically when chewing or constantly.  For this you are likely to need both a root canal and a crown attached. 

Cracked tooth

This refers to a crack running from the top of the tooth down to the nerve.  These cracks spread gradually over time as daily wear and tear affects them.  You will need a root canal if the pulp or nerve endings are damaged, but if not then the damaged area can be filed and crowned in order to make it stable. 

Split tooth

This is when the tooth has split and the two sides have come away.  Your back teeth have more than one root, so sometimes they can save one root if this occurs.  You will definitely have a root canal, and possibly some form of surgery to save the root if this is possible.  The damaged root will have to be removed, and the tooth crowned.  Sometimes saving the tooth is not possible and your dentist will have to remove it. 

Basic Treatments for a Broken Tooth:

  • Root canal - Most adults will have to have a root canal to remove the affected nerve.  Once the nerve has been removed then the area can be filled and capped. 
  • Dental Filling – A filling can be used to fill the area before a cap is applied.  This serves to fill any cavities and prevent any further damage.
  • Tooth removal – Sometimes the tooth cannot be saved and your dentist will have to remove it.  When this occurs a false tooth can be fitted so that you aren’t left with any gaps. 

Once your dentist has treated your broken tooth the pain will subside and the tooth will be protected from any further damage.  Crowns are generally the same colour as the rest of your tooth and aren’t visible from the outside.  You might need some further treatments if the crown gets worn but usually they last at least 10 years.

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