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Fractured and Broken Teeth

Overview

Even though teeth are very strong, they can break, fracture, or chip. This usually occurs from; getting hit in your mouth, falling down, eating something hard that chips or breaks your tooth, and weakening of your teeth due to cavities. A tooth does not necessarily have to hurt when it breaks, and may even go unnoticed for awhile. This usually depends upon the size of the break and its location on the tooth. If the underlying tooth surface, the dentine, or the pulp is injured, and the tooth is exposed to saliva, air, chewing pressure, and cold and hot beverages and foods, pain can occur. This pain can be intermittent or constant.

What Can You Do?


Cracked or Fractured Teeth
If your tooth breaks or cracks at home, you must visit a dentist to repair it. It cannot be fixed at home. There are times when a tooth hurts intermittently, and other times when they hurt constantly. Constant tooth pain, may be the result of a damaged nerve or blood vessels, and requires immediate attention.

Broken Teeth

If your tooth is broken, you should visit your dentist immediately so they can determine if your tooth broke due to a cavity, and whether nerve damage may or does exist. If this nerve damage occurs in adults a root canal is usually required. Contrarily, if this occurs in a child and is treated immediately, the problem has a greater chance of correcting itself. If your tooth breaks, you should: 1) save the pieces and bring them with you to your dentist�s office; 2) use warm water to rinse your mouth and rinse the pieces if you can find them; 3) place gauze and pressure on the area if it is bleeding to control the bleeding; 4) place cold in the area of the broken tooth to minimize swelling and pain; 5) use a temporary over-the-counter filling material or dental cement; and 6) use a mild pain medication (like ibuprofen or Tylenol) to help ease any pain you may have.

What Can Your Dentist Do?


Fractured Teeth

Numerous varieties of broken teeth require a variety of differing therapies. Included in these are:

  1. Minor cracks or enamel craze lines which only affect the outer tooth layer and do not cause pain. Dental treatment involves smoothing these enamel craze lines and/or areas.
  2. Cracked tooth involving the entire tooth from the biting surface into the nerve of the tooth. Dental treatment can involve filling the tooth all the way to a root canal and crown.
  3. Tooth Chips which can be very minor and require no dental treatment, to tooth smoothing, to placing a dental filling. Depending on the severity of the chip, the dentist can file and polish the tooth, or the tooth may require more treatment to make it aesthetic.
  4. Broken tooth cusp does not usually involve the dental pulp, and can be repaired with a filling, onlay or dental crown.
  5. Serious breaks can involve the dental pulp and result in dental pain. If these breaks involve the pulp, the tooth may bleed. In these cases a root canal and dental crown will be required to properly restore the tooth.
  6. Split tooth is when the tooth fractured vertically into two pieces. If this occurs in your molar teeth, it may be possible to save a root or two, depending on which molar is involved and its location. If this is possible, a root canal and a dental crown are usually required to save the tooth. If this is not possible, the tooth will require removal.
  7. Split root or vertical tooth break begin in the root of the tooth and usually extend onto the chewing surface of the tooth. These breaks are painful and involve some damage to the surrounding tissues. This usually requires removal of the tooth.
  8. Decay-induced tooth break is a result of the tooth becoming excessively decayed into its substructure and eventually fracturing. The dentist can examine your tooth and recommend various treatments depending on the location and extent of the break.