Have you ever cracked or broken a tooth? If you have, you know that it is not a very fun experience. A broken or cracked tooth almost always warrants a trip to your dentist to be examined. It is important not to wait around until the pain is unbearable. There are some instances when the time is of the essence to save your tooth and stop an infection from forming. Here are some important things to know when you are faced with a cracked or broken tooth.
What Is a Cracked or Broken Tooth?
It is important to know the difference between the types of tooth fractures you can get.
Ø Craze lines are small, shallow lines that only affect the outer enamel, do not cause pain and do not warrant a trip to the dentist.
Ø Fractured cusp is when part of the surface of the tooth breaks off. It is also relatively pain-free but should be checked out by the dentist.
Ø A cracked tooth is just what it sounds like. The crack runs from the surface of the tooth toward the root. A cracked tooth is painful and needs to be seen immediately by a dentist.
Ø A tooth becomes a split tooth when a cracked tooth is left untreated. The tooth becomes two separate segments and is past the point of being saved. You will need to see the dentist have your tooth pulled.
Ø Vertical root fracture begins at the root and extends toward the surface of the tooth. There may not be any symptoms of this type of fracture until the surrounding gum tissue becomes infected. Immediately treatment is needed.
What to Do at Home
Most of the time when we have an accident that involves our teeth, we are nowhere near the dentist office. Most likely we will be munching on a snack in our living room in front of the tv or at a sporting event. So, it is important to know how to properly care for your tooth until you can get to your dentist’s office.
If you break a tooth, follow these steps:
Ø Rinse your mouth with warm water
Ø If the tooth is bleeding, apply pressure by folding a piece of gauze and placing in it the mouth for about 10 minutes or until the bleeding stops.
Ø You may want to place an ice pack on the outside of the mouth, over the area where the tooth is broken, to reduce swelling.
Ø Call your dentist immediately!
What Your Dentist Can Do
Ø Dental bonding is used to fill in the cracks of the tooth. The composite material is applied to the tooth and hardened using an ultraviolet light. The dental bonding can last up to 10 years after it is applied.
Ø Veneers are used to cover the cracked tooth, so that your new tooth blends in seamlessly with your other teeth. The veneer is bonded to the tooth and can last up to 30 years with proper care.
Ø If you have a more severe crack, you may need a crown instead of a veneer. A crown is a cap that is placed over the tooth as a protectant. A mold must be taken of the current tooth and the crown will be made specifically for your mouth. The crown will then be cemented into place.
Ø When a cracked tooth extends into the pulp of the tooth, you will need a root canal. During a root canal, decayed tooth matter is removed from the pulp along with any infection. The nerve is also removed and a temporary crown is placed. Once you have healed and a permanent crown is made, you will have the crown permanently placed over the what is left of the tooth.
Ø Dental Implants are used in the worst-case scenarios when a tooth has split or the crack reaches below the gum line like in a vertical root fracture. Your tooth will be extracted and an implant will be placed in the opening left by the tooth.