Caring for your teeth and gums can keep your smile looking its best and also ensure your mouth stays healthy. Yet, things don’t always go as planned, such as when you crack, fracture, or break a tooth,
There are a number of reasons and ways a tooth can break. It can happen while eating out with friends or while participating in a sport. You can bite down on a piece of hard candy or wake up from a night of grinding your teeth to discover something wrong. A tooth may break as a result of large fillings, excessive wear, brittleness, or trauma.
While some may experience a completely broken tooth, in many situations, the tooth cracks or fractures in one area but stays intact. These are called hairline fractures and can develop over time or be sudden. Knowing what to do when this happens and what treatments are available can help you care for the tooth in the best way possible.
Broken Tooth Symptoms
Whether or not you are aware you have a broken tooth, there are common symptoms. These symptoms can alert you that you have a cracked tooth or possibly a tiny fracture that can become worse if not treated.
Broken tooth symptoms include:
- Pain when chewing or biting down. This pain may occur only when eating specific foods (e.g., hard foods such as nuts) or when biting down in a certain way.
- A dull, aching pain (although this is not a common symptom). A break in a tooth does not usually cause constant pain like what happens in other dental emergencies, but it can occur.
- Tooth sensitivity. The tooth may be sensitive when consuming hot or cold food or beverages or when chewing sugary or sticky foods. Changes in temperature or pressure may also cause sensitivity in a broken tooth.
- Looseness or movement in the tooth. The broken tooth piece may feel loose and also slightly shift around when your tongue touches it or when you eat.
- Swelling or the appearance of a small bump. Swelling in the area of the tooth or a small bump forming on the surrounding mouth tissues or gum line can indicate inflammation or infection.
Oftentimes, there will be no outwardly visible sign of the break, crack, or hairline fracture, so staying alert for these symptoms can help you know that something is wrong.
What to Do if You Break a Tooth
If it is obvious you broke a tooth, or you start to experience the symptoms listed above, try taking the following steps to ease any discomfort. Start by gently rinsing your mouth with warm water. If any bleeding begins, apply only slight pressure.
If pain occurs, try swishing warm water inside your mouth again, then apply a cold compress to the facial area outside where the broken tooth is located. This compress can help limit any swelling. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, or apply natural clove oil to the gums of the broken tooth. It is possible that none of these remedies will work, so seek treatment from your dentist as early as possible to avoid additional damage.
Treatments for a Broken Tooth
Before determining which treatment you will need, your dentist will visually and manually examine your teeth and gums. X-rays may be needed as well. Much will depend on the location of the breakage and its severity, and also the remaining structure of your tooth.
Viable options to treat a broken tooth include the following.
- New Fillings: If your tooth suffers from only small fractures, tooth-colored fillings can provide protection and repair the damage.
- Dental Crowns: A broken tooth often suffers extensive damage and will require a dental crown. The crown will be designed to fit tightly over what remains of the natural tooth, much like a cap, protecting and strengthening it.
- Root Canal Procedure: When the break results in damage to the underlying layers of the tooth, to the dental pulp, you may need a root canal procedure. Following such a treatment, you will also likely need to have a dental crown.
- Extraction: If the break affects the overall structure of the tooth, an extraction may be required. While your dentist will do everything possible to save your natural tooth, sometimes it is just not possible. In such instances, a replacement can be put in place, including dental implants and bridges.
There may be other options available, like inlays or onlays, or even veneers to cover minute cracks. Ask your dentist to provide you with information on all possibilities so you can make an informed decision.
Schedule an Appointment with Smile Hilliard Today
If you or a family member break a tooth or suffer any of the symptoms listed above, contact our office as soon as possible. Our team here at Smile Hilliard is ready to assist you and your family with all your dental needs and will spend time explaining any necessary procedures or treatments. Find out more or schedule an appointment by contacting our office today.