How can you get a broken tooth?
One of the most common dental emergencies there is falls under the heading of “broken tooth“. Broken teeth come about, most commonly, when there is minor (or major) decay already present in the tooth. Because the tooth is partially decayed, enamel, and as acorollary, the structure of the tooth itself, is weakened significantly. As you can imagine, if you have a tooth that has decay in it, and is therefore, weaker, you will be predisposed to getting a broken tooth. Even biting into a granola bar, or in rarer instances, a hard apple, can cause a tooth to break when it becomes decayed. Sometimes, if you have a large filling in your tooth, and bite down hard on something, you can actually break the tooth. Yet another cause: amalgam (or metal) fillings expand and contract from heat and cold. When this happens, it can cause small fractures in the tooth and eventually, could contribute to a broken tooth. From hard candy, to the fairly common habit of chewing ice there are many ways a tooth can become broken (even when your tooth is healthy). It’s also common to see someone come in straight from a sport they’ve been playing with a broken tooth.
Even though our teeth are covered in the strongest, most mineralized substance in the human body (enamel), they can and sometimes do, crack, fracture and break. When and if this does occur it is very important that you seek out emergency dental care. One of the reasons this is so is if, for instance, you somehow broke a tooth and from that break the pulp of the tooth (the part of the tooth that supplies blood and minerals to keep the tooth healthy) is now exposed. If this occurs you would know by how sensitive the tooth becomes, and pain (often severe) can, and usually does, accompany it. The reason, however, that you want to get it taken care of right away is that you don’t want the root of the tooth to become infected and therefore necessitate root canal therapy (a dental procedure done to clean out the root of a tooth when it becomes infected). Also, even if you just partially chipped a tooth, you’ve lost a good deal of the protective enamel, and when that occurs, and in conjunction with the rough tooth surface that can hold bacteria, decay of that tooth can be speeded significantly. There are also cosmetic reasons an individual would want to repair a broken tooth, even if it isn’t causing pain or sensitivity. Not everyone enjoys having part of their tooth missing when they smile. But as was mentioned in the title of this blog, there is help!
What can be done with a broken tooth?
There is, fortunately, many things that can help to repair a broken tooth. Here are some solutions for you to talk with your dentist about:
- Dental crown. If a large portion of a tooth gets broken, and the root of the tooth remains whole and intact, a dental crown (usually made with a very strong porcelain-like material) can be put over the tooth in order to protect it and strengthen the tooth as a whole.
- Dental bonding. If you just chipped a tooth slightly the dentist can use a composite dental bond (tooth colored filling material) to attach to the chipped part of your tooth. The dentist will then shape the tooth, harden it, usually using a sort of specialized light, and polish it down to the point it looks just like part of the tooth.
- Dental veneers. Dental veneers are a thin porcelain covering used to cover the front of the tooth. You can use it for a chipped tooth to make it look whole again, made with a thicker part porcelain to act as that part of the tooth that chipped off.
- Root canal therapy (with a crown). If the nerve of the tooth is damaged, as is the commonly the case in a more serious instance of a broken tooth, the dentist may need to remove the damaged part of the root (the pulp) and fill it with a special filling material. He then would build the tooth back up and use a dental crown to cover and protect the tooth.
As you can see, there are solutions to a broken tooth. Don’t neglect going to the dentist if you have chipped a tooth, or broken it in some way. This is especially so if the tooth is sensitive or you feel pain when you’re eating. Come get help!
Here is some more info from the ADA, if you’re interested.
As always, keep healthy!