Tooth-broken! How to handle this dental emergency?

Emergency Dentistry in Plymouth

Tooth-broken! How to handle this dental emergency?

Breaking a tooth is a common dental emergency and we help patients with broken teeth almost every day. It could be quite distressing when a tooth breaks, leaving a lot of questions. If you have broken a tooth and are wondering how to manage this, the following information is for you!

Why did the tooth break?

A tooth fracture is common due to the following:

  • Large fillings can weaken teeth. This is typical with amalgam (silver) fillings, because their undercut design leaves a tooth vulnerable to fractures.
  • The tooth surface above a large cavity (decay) can collapse and break when biting in to it.
  • Trauma to teeth can break them e.g., a blow to the mouth, falling down, biting in to hard substances etc.

What happens to the tooth now?

When a tooth breaks,

  • it could leave sharp edges that may rub against the tongue, cheek, or lips causing ulceration or sore spots.
  • it could be sensitive to hot and cold food.
  • it can cause considerable pain, sharp or throbbing, depending on the extent of the fracture and nerve exposure.
  • it could become a cosmetic problem, if the broken tooth is a front one.
  • it could just stay without any major problem, if the break is minimal.

What to do next to stop it getting worse?

A broken tooth needs assessment by the dentist as soon as possible. Call the dental practice straight away to arrange your appointment. If it is outside the practice opening hours, you could still be assessed by the out-of-hours emergency dental service. This information is available through the practice’s answering machine.

In the meantime, the following is recommended:

  • Avoid biting with that tooth. If there are other minor cracks, these can progress and damage the tooth further.
  • Avoid hot or cold drinks. These can trigger pain sensation and can irritate the nerves, sometimes forever.
  • Keep the area clean. Remove any food lodged in that tooth by gentle brushing.

What are the treatment options to fix this?

Every tooth fracture is different and needs appropriate management. The dentist will assess the extent of the break and recommend the treatment required to fix the problem.

  • If it is a minimal chip, all that may be needed is just smoothing the area.
  • More commonly, the tooth may need to be restored with a filling or a crown depending how big the fracture is. With the contemporary materials and techniques, the tooth can be made to look and function as before.
  • Root canal treatment may be required if the nerves are damaged irreversibly, or if the fracture extends in to the nerves. Crown protection is generally required after a root canal treatment.
  • If the root is broken, the tooth may need extraction (removal) in most cases. Replacement options like dental implant, bridge, or denture are available to get a tooth back after an extraction.

How to prevent this dental emergency in the future?

Steps that can be taken to minimise future tooth fractures:

  • Regular dental check-ups can identify early cavities and vulnerable fillings, so preventive treatment can be provided.
  • Being aware of the weaker teeth with big fillings and avoid biting hard food in that area.
  • Custom-made mouth guards can help prevent traumatic injuries for people playing contact sports.

If you have broken a tooth and looking for an emergency dentist in Plymouth area, we could help you.  We also provide the preventive dentistry services to avoid such problems in future. Here is all the details you need to get in touch.