Broken Tooth: What to Do

You’re playing your favourite sport when you take a hard hit to the mouth - or, maybe you’re crunching your favourite hard candy when you feel part of your tooth come loose.

A broken tooth can be scary, and requires dental attention to assess the damage and formulate an effective treatment plan. Here’s what you need to know about fixing a broken tooth.

How to Tell if Your Tooth is Broken

Sometimes, it’s obvious that your tooth is broken. Chips or cracks on the front of your tooth or a tooth that splits in half are easy to spot.

However, if you have a small fracture, it might not be visible to the naked eye. If the back of your tooth is damaged, you may not be able to see the damage. If you have a broken wisdom tooth that hasn’t fully erupted, part of the damage may be concealed.

Signs that your tooth is broken include:

  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Intermittent pain
  • Increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods and liquids
  • A dental infection
  • Tooth pain with no visible explanation

There are a few dental injuries that frequently occur. When you chip a tooth, part of the tooth breaks off. Meanwhile, a cracked tooth occurs when there’s a visible crack or line in your tooth. The crack usually occurs due to some type of impact or pressure on the tooth. Cracks that are superficial only affect your enamel, and usually don’t need additional treatment. However, cracks located near your tooth’s crown need dental treatment.

When your tooth is hit from a certain angle, it can cause a fractured root. The rest of your tooth may look fine, but the tooth’s root is damaged.

Sometimes, the whole tooth is knocked out. This is known as a tooth intrusion. Children are more susceptible to tooth intrusions because they have weaker tooth sockets. When your tooth encounters a strong force or repeated stress (often associated with eating hard foods or grinding your teeth), this causes the tooth to break.

Treating a Broken Tooth: Everything You Need to Know

The recommended treatment to fix a broken tooth depends on the extent of the crack or break, the location of the damage, and whether the tooth is an adult or baby tooth. At Barrie Smile Centre, we offer a variety of procedures and treatment options to satisfy your dental needs.

How Do You Treat a Broken Tooth?

If your tooth has a small chip that’s left you with jagged edges, we can polish your tooth to smooth the uncomfortable edges. If the chip has left you with a gap or fissure, we can use dental bonding to restore your tooth.

However, if your chip or crack affects more than the surface of your tooth, you’ll need a more intensive procedure. When you have a broken front tooth with a crack that extends to the pulp, you may need a root canal to remove the irritated pulp. Once the pulp is removed and the tooth is sealed, we’ll use a filling or crown to finish repairing your tooth.

You may need a different procedure if you have a half-broken molar tooth. Molar teeth have more than one root.

If you fracture one root, a root amputation known as a hemisection can save the rest of your tooth. We’ll perform a root canal on your remaining tooth and fit you for a crown. If a root canal won’t save your tooth, we can extract it; or, if the crack extends below the gum line, you’ll likely need an extraction. We’ll place a dental implant to replace your tooth.

Knocked your tooth out completely? With prompt dental attention, it’s possible to successfully re-implant the tooth. Avoid touching the tooth by the root and put it back in the socket. If you can’t place it in the socket, put it in a cup of saliva or milk and get the dentist as quickly as possible.

Is it Safe to Leave a Broken Tooth Untreated?

Unless you’re dealing with an extremely minor chip, it isn’t safe to leave a broken tooth untreated, even if the tooth seemingly feels fine – for example, a tooth broken off at your gum line may not be painful because the break didn’t impact your roots, but it is still potentially dangerous.

When you feel pain from your broken tooth, this means the damage has exposed your nerve roots. The nerve roots are the source of your pain. However, even if your nerve roots are exposed, you may have periods where the pain subsides.

Left untreated, a broken tooth can decay and irritate your surrounding teeth and gum tissue, putting you at risk of infection. The damage to your tooth’s structure is a breeding ground for plaque and bacteria. Unless it’s repaired, the tooth may continue to erode until the pulp is eventually exposed.

How Do You Fix a Broken Tooth at Home?

If you can’t make it to the dentist, you may wonder if it’s possible to fix a broken tooth at home.

A tooth with a small chip is repairable at home until you can see your dentist. There are emergency dental kits available at most drug stores that include paraffin wax. Soften the wax between your fingers and then place it around the chipped area of your tooth so that the jagged edge doesn’t scratch your cheek or tongue.

Even if a chip looks small, it’s important to have a dentist look at it. A small chip isn’t typically a dental emergency, but the location of the chip may threaten the structural integrity of your tooth. The chip can also create a spot on your tooth that produces an ideal environment for tooth decay. When left untreated, the decay can potentially lead to a bacterial infection.

A broken tooth with an exposed nerve is extremely painful and sensitive. You can take over-the-counter pain medications or use a dental anesthetic (like Orajel or Anbesol). Stay away from foods and beverages that are extremely hot or cold, as they’ll worsen your pain. This also applies to sugary or acidic foods and beverages. Hard foods can further damage the tooth and increase your pain, so stick with soft, easy-to-chew foods until your tooth is fixed.

When Do I Need to Visit a Doctor?

You’ll want to have a dentist look at most tooth injuries, with the potential exception of tiny chips and cracks. Even a seemingly minor crack or chip can have hidden damage and increase your risk of infection or tooth decay.

Avoid pursuing home remedies for a broken tooth with an exposed nerve. Schedule a dentist appointment and manage the pain until your appointment time, where your dentist can assess the damage and get to work on treating or restoring your tooth.

Dealing with a broken tooth, or another dental emergency ? Contact Barrie Smile Centre to request a free consultation!

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Barrie Smile Centre is truly amazing I called and had an issue with with some tooth pain they were able to fit me in same day which I was truly grateful for. All the staff are kind and professional they truly care about there patients. Big thank you to Dr.Eisen for being so kind and helping me in this situation. I highly recommend Barrie Smile Centre 😃 Thanks again

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