In the event of a broken tooth, you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Without immediate treatment, a broken tooth can easily become infected, often leading to total loss of the tooth.
There are many ways in which a tooth can break. A tooth is most commonly broken by direct contact to the face, commonly seen in the event of a car accident or in various sports like football, soccer, volleyball or baseball. Biting down hard on something can also lead to a break in the tooth.
The most common symptoms and signs of a broken tooth are:
- Pain – The pain is usually immediate, but can sometimes go unnoticed if the break is minor.
- Visibility – A break in the tooth can normally be seen by the naked eye. However, sometimes the break can be extremely fine and easily go unnoticed.
- Sensitivity – The broken tooth will give a sharp, unpleasant sensation when you consume hot or cold food.
Treatment for a broken tooth depends upon the extent of the damage.
- Minor cracks are common and can often go unnoticed. They can usually be buffed out or filled with a composite material.
- Major cracks require more intensive care. A composite filling can usually repair the crack, however more complicated procedures like crown placements may be necessary.
- A split in the tooth will most likely require extraction of the tooth.
A broken tooth can be easily prevented, but sometimes it happens out of our control.
- Avoid chewing on hard foods, especially if you have, or think you might have, cavities.
- Always wear a mouth guard when playing contact sports.
- Check old fillings regularly; they can cause increased susceptibility to cracks and breaks.
If you broke a tooth but can’t visit your dentist immediately, it’s important to follow specific self-care measures to prevent your broken tooth from further damage.
- If you are experiencing any pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen.
- Disinfect your mouth by rinsing with salt water.
- Eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the broken tooth.
If you can see your dentist immediately, keep the broken part in saliva or milk until you arrive at the office. These substances are the best way to temporarily keep the microstructure of the tooth intact, making it easier for your dentist to repair the damage.
It’s extremely important to see your dentist immediately after breaking a tooth. For more information or to make an appointment, click here.