Despite the fact that teeth are relatively resilient, they aren’t invincible and in fact, they can chip, crack or break for a lot more reasons than you might first think. It’s not just falling, accidents and blows to the face that may cause a broken tooth. Nonchalantly biting down on something hard, unsuspecting cavities or old fillings can all cause damage. The question is…what to do with a broken tooth?
No matter how minor, a broken tooth will require a trip to the dentist at some point. If it’s a severe break, or you feel major discomfort or pain, then you might even need emergency dental care. Either way, you need to do something.
With this in mind, from the initial break to the dental chair, we explain everything you need to know and do.
Firstly, here’s what you need to know
You can’t treat a broken tooth at home. Although most minor breaks cause very little (if any) discomfort, you will need professional dental treatment. Even when you do feel slight discomfort, it’s likely that it will come and go over time. However, if you are experiencing sporadic excruciating or continual pain, it’s often a sign that the nerve vessels within the tooth have been damaged and you should seek emergency dental care.
Either way, call your dentist as soon as the break occurs because the sooner you can get to see them, the better it is for your tooth. They will be able to ascertain pretty quickly the extent of the damage and suggest a course of action.
If the broken tooth has caused inner nerve damage, then, more often than not, the only suitable treatment will be endodontic (a root canal). Your dentist may also check to see if the break has in part been caused by cavities. If so, they will look at repairing these too.
What to do with a broken tooth while you wait to see the dentist?
So, your tooth has broken and you’ve already spoken to your dentist – the question is…what do you do now?
Until you can see the dentist, here are a few things that you can do to help in the interim…
- Use warm water to rinse out your mouth – This will remove any tiny splinters of tooth, or any food particles which if left, can cause bacteria
- If it’s a severe break and the site is bleeding then apply pressure with a clean gauze by gently biting down for 10 minutes until the bleeding stops
- If you have pain or swelling, use a cold pack over your lips and cheek to minimise any discomfort. Never put it directly on the broken tooth area
- Take a dose of over-the-counter pain medication to ease any discomfort if needed
- If your broken tooth has left sharp or jagged edges then you might want to look at buying some dental cement (available from pharmacies) to smooth your tooth over until you can seek assistance.
So now you know what to do with a broken tooth in the interim period between having the accident and visiting your dentist, let’s talk about when you get to the dentist.
How a dentist fixes a broken tooth?
Whether you require emergency dental care or are visiting at your earliest convenience, your dentist will only be able to determine what procedure is necessary once they have had a closer look. The type of treatment will depend upon the extent and type of damage. Treatments may include:
- Filling or bonding for minor chips, cracks and breaks
- Dental veneers for a natural finish
- Tooth extraction and replacement if the tooth has been split at the root or damaged beyond repair
- Root canal treatment if nerve damage has occurred
- Composite white fillings if cavities need to be repaired
- Dental crowns or inlays to repair or protect the tooth
A dentist should take into account the complexities of your broken tooth, your medical history and your current dental health before they determine the best treatment for you.
What to do with a broken tooth? – The key takeaway
A broken tooth can be something so severe that it needs emergency dental care or simply a mild annoyance that needs dental intervention. Either way, it will require a trip to the dentist.
While accidents can’t always be avoided, looking after your teeth with good oral care at home combined with regular visits to your dentist will stand your teeth in good stead by preventing breaks and cracks caused by tooth decay or cavities.
If you have a broken tooth or simply feel that it’s about time you visited the dentist, then come and talk to the friendly team at Randwick Smiles. We’re here to help you get the best out of your smile.
Call us on 02 8188 4625 or book a consultation online.