Having a chipped or broken tooth can be extremely painful and lead to many complications if not treated. In this blog post, we will discuss the signs of a chipped or broken tooth, how it can happen, and what you should do if your tooth becomes chipped or breaks. We’ll also talk about different treatment options for repairing broken teeth such as dental fillings, crowns, veneers, and root canal therapy.
What Causes a Tooth to Break?
One of the first signs your tooth may be chipped or broken is feeling a sharp pain when biting down on that particular area. Additionally, if you are able to see it yourself by looking into a mirror, there will likely be some kind of visible crack along the enamel surface.
Chipping or cracking can occur for many different reasons, including:
- Hitting the tooth against a hard surface
- Chewing on hard foods such as ice, nuts, or hard candy
- Using your teeth to rip open packaging
- Loss of tooth structure, or a wearing down of the enamel (protective layer)
- Exposure to extreme temperatures
- Teeth being fragile as a result of root canal treatment
How to Care for a Chipped Tooth?
If chipping occurs at home, you should rinse the chipped area with warm salt water to help clean it and then, if deemed necessary, use an over-the-counter pain relief medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
In the time before you’re able to see a dentist, avoid chewing around the site of the damage, and stay away from hard foods such as ice cream, nuts, or toast that could chisel at the chipped area. Also, be careful to avoid causing further damage to your tooth by using a straw when drinking hot liquids, and never use mouthwash until you can consult with your dentist first.
When chipping or other damage occurs, it’s vital to seek out the professional help of dental experts as soon as possible, in order to avoid the more serious complications that can arise if not treated immediately. Seeing a dentist is especially urgent in the event of finding an open flap on your chipped tooth, due to its increased susceptibility for infection and pain sensitivity.
What are the Treatments for a Broken Tooth?
Conventional dental fillings are one of the most common forms of tooth repair. Fillings can be made from a variety of materials, including gold and silver amalgam, porcelain inlays or onlays, plastics such as resin composite, glass ionomer cement (GIC), and also composites that contain zinc oxide and eugenol.
If you damaged a tooth and need to have it repaired, your dentist will choose the most appropriate material for repairing your damaged tooth based on several factors including what caused damage to begin with (e.g., cavity, crack), how much of the damaged area needs to be filled in order for it to look natural again, how long the damaged area has been present, and your personal preference.
If a tooth is damaged beyond repair with conventional fillings, crowns may be considered as an option to restore it. Crowns are caps that cover the damaged portion of the tooth in order to bring back its natural shape and size. The most common reasons for needing dental crowns are to restore damaged teeth, cover badly shaped or stained teeth, and correct misshapen chipped teeth.
Crowns usually last longer than fillings and can be more aesthetically pleasing as well. There are several types of crown options such as gold, porcelain fused to metal, ceramic or full coverage which covers the entire tooth structure in porcelain.
Veneers are thin shells or “coats” that cover damaged areas on a damaged tooth. Veneers are usually made from porcelain and can be used to mask damaged teeth, as well as cover misshapen or stained teeth. One of the benefits associated with dental veneers is that they only require one visit to your dentist for treatment; however, their durability varies depending on the type and extent of damage to your teeth.
Dental bonding is a type of tooth repair that can be used to close up damaged areas on damaged teeth without changing the shape or structure of your damaged teeth. This treatment option involves using a resin-based material called composite, which has been shaped and dried into place over the damaged area(s) on your damaged teeth. The Composite is then polished and smoothed down to look natural.
Root Canal Treatment
In the event that your damaged teeth have damaged roots, root canal treatment may be needed in order to save them from being removed completely. Root canals are naturally occurring tunnels found inside a tooth’s roots that carry blood vessels and nerves through a tooth’s crown into its roots.
When someone experiences damaged teeth, it is often because their damaged roots have become infected and damaged. Root canal treatment involves removing the damaged tissue from inside a tooth’s root and filling in any empty spaces with special chemicals that will prevent infection of your damaged teeth moving forward.
If the damage to your teeth is not treatable through one of the methods above, it may have to be extracted to avoid further pain and complications, and repaired with a dental implant.
Dental implants are artificial tooth roots that can be inserted as replacement teeth, helping to fix damaged teeth by providing a foundation for your replacement crown. After an implant is inserted, it takes about three months for the surrounding gum tissues and bone structure to fully heal before a permanent crown (or bridge) can be connected to it.