When asked to consider the significant amount of pressure teeth are subjected to on a daily basis, it is little surprise that breaking pearly whites is an extremely common issue. The problem can be brought on for a number of reasons, with diet, teeth grinding and sporting injury among the most regular causes.
Biting down unexpectedly on a hard piece of food or impact to the face and mouth can also seriously damage teeth, with patients often claiming the experience is very painful.
In many cases, fractured teeth can break as a result of underlying health issues brought on by cavities and tooth decay. If these issues are able to advance through the tooth, it can become weakened and cause the pearly white to splinter, fracture or crack.
This can then lead to the tooth needing to be extracted by a dental professional if the decay is able to develop to the deeper areas of the mouth.
What are the different types of broken tooth?
The phrase tooth fracture is one that can be used to describe a number of types of damage, with some cases being much more serious than others. Therefore, while some injuries require emergency dentistry treatment, others may not need to be examined.
A chipped tooth
When a tooth becomes chipped it indicates only the outer layer of protective enamel has been damaged. This means the inner pulp of the teeth has not been harmed, therefore emergency dentistry is easily avoidable.
Some image-conscious patients may feel more confident if they attend an appointment with a dental practitioner regardless of the injury to discuss the possibility of receiving some cosmetic treatment.
Chipped teeth rarely cause pain or sensitivity for the patient and are commonly repaired with composite bonding material.
A surface crack
There are a number of degrees of cracks that can appear on teeth over time, with some much worse than others. The majority of people will have surface cracks in the enamel on one or two teeth, with this issue causing little or no discomfort.
Although it is unlikely any oral health treatment will be required as a result of this issue, patients are advised to notify their dentist during their next routine dental check-up to allow them to monitor the pearly white on a regular basis.
A broken cusp
When individuals bite down on an object hard, part of the cusp of the pearly white can break. Although this area – which is located at the top of the biting surface – is not usually painful when it breaks, it may make chewing a more difficult task.
Debris from food can also get caught in the broken area of the tooth, which could ultimately lead to decay. For this reason, a dental professional may suggest reshaping the area or fitting a dental crown over the top.
A split tooth
When a tooth splits, it can mean damage has been caused from the crown down to the root, which can increase the chance of infection and cause severe toothache. In some cases, it may be possible to repair the area with a crown, but if the root is affected there will not be adequate foundation to attach it to, which leaves no option other than tooth extraction.
A badly cracked tooth
If cracks are spotted early enough, an emergency dentist can often fill them, depending on the severity of the issue and whether or not any decay has started to develop. For this reason, patients are advised to attend regular dental appointments to spot any early signs of damage,
A broken tooth
When a tooth cracks, the root normally remains in place and the inner pulp of the tooth will be protected by the outer layers. In cases where the nerve and blood supply are left exposed, patients can expect to feel instant pain and require treatment as soon as possible.
Root canal treatment is often carried out to remove the inner pulp of the tooth, with a cap or crown commonly fitted to hold the tooth together and protect it from getting worse due to the added pressure.
What action should I take for a broken tooth?
If a tooth breaks at home, patients should ensure they take an over-the-counter painkiller to ease the initial discomfort. In cases where the pain has moved to the cheek and jaw, a cold compress could help to soothe the affected area of the face.
Individuals who have lost a large part of their tooth should attempt to hold on to the missing chunk, with the hope an emergency dentist is able to cement it back into position as quickly as possible.
What action will the emergency dentist take for a broken tooth?
In cases when a tooth has severely fractured, the most common course of action for an emergency dentist is to install a crown. However, when decay has started to develop the task can become more difficult.
If an infection in the tooth has reached the pulp, a dental professional will need to perform a root canal treatment. This involves drilling into the tooth and scraping the infected pulp out through the root canal. When this has been carried out, the tooth no longer has a blood supply or nerve endings, rendering it technically dead.
However, this process allows the tooth to be preserved, with a dentist able to fill the space vacated by the infection with a neutral substance. Following this, is it then possible to cap or crown a tooth as if it was healthy.
A practitioner may be unable to perform root canal treatment if the tooth is damaged or split, with this instance making it more difficult to protect the tooth. While it is often a last resort for dentists, extraction will relieve the pain and stop infection from spreading to other teeth.
What is the effect of decay?
Although fractures, damage and breakages can occur for many different reasons, decay can play a role in the underlying weakening of a tooth before the incident takes place.
The issue is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth, which – when combined with sugary foods and carbohydrates – forms acid if left for a long period of time. Following this, the harmful substance begins to erode the protective layer of enamel on the teeth and cavities can develop as a result.
When this occurs, it can become much easier for the tooth to fracture, as well as making it more difficult for the tooth to be saved by an emergency dentist, thus increasing the chances of requiring a tooth extraction.
Individuals who maintain a high standard of oral hygiene should be able to tackle the regular build-up of plaque and stop the cavities from forming. Those people with an effective oral health routine are less likely to experience many problems with their teeth.
How do I maintain my oral health?
A simple routing of brushing teeth twice every day using a fluoride toothpaste, as well as cleaning between the teeth is usually enough to ensure oral health is maintained.
Additionally, consuming a healthy diet that is rich in nutritious fruit and vegetables – while avoiding sugary snacks – can improve the conditions in the mouth as well as promoting improvement to overall wellbeing.
Just a few small changes to a daily routine can make a significant difference in the long run and potentially reduce the risk of requiring painful and expensive dental treatment for a broken tooth.