It’s a simple relaxing evening and you’re watching your favorite movie with your family. You reach over to munch on a handful of popcorn when suddenly, crack! You bit down on a kernel! Running your tongue over your teeth you notice a rigid edge along one of your canines. It looks like you broke a tooth. Now what?
How to Identify a Broken Tooth
First things first. You need to know if your tooth is really broken and, if it is, how badly? There are multiple types of breaks you can experience when you break a tooth, the most common being a chip or a fracture.
A chipped tooth is easy to spot. If you run your tongue along your teeth, you’ll come across a jagged edge or inconsistency in your teeth. If you aren’t sure, from there you can just check a mirror. A chipped tooth may not hurt, but if enough has broken off and you experience pain, it is likely that there is some nerve exposure.
When it comes to a fractured tooth, there are multiple things to look out for. A fracture to the enamel is identifiable by cracks in the tooth, but while there is little to no pain associated with this kind of break, it can lead to larger stress fractures.
The easiest way to identify if you have a fracture is if you notice your tooth beginning to hurt when you eat something hot or cold. A quick way to test the fracture is to bite down gently and release. If you experience pain on the release then your tooth is most likely fractured.
A fracture to the enamel and dentin will look broken or chipped with yellow and brown areas on the tooth and can range from no pain to a sensitivity to temperature change and pressure. A fracture that reaches the pulp of your tooth will look the same, but there will be areas of light, dark, and red. This type of fracture will hurt all of the time and cause swelling and it is important that you see your dentist as soon as possible. The same goes for a root fracture which, although invisible, will inflict pain and swelling and could lead to an infection.
The first step in taking care of your broken tooth is to be able to identify it. While seeing a dentist as soon as possible is vital for every type of broken tooth, it is important to be able to recognize the severity and urgency of your particular situation.
What to Do
It is important that whether your tooth is chipped or fractured, that you see a dentist as soon as possible, but until you can get an appointment, there are a few steps you should take.
After identifying that you do have a broken tooth, you should rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm water. If your tooth is bleeding, you should apply pressure with gauze for up to ten minutes. If the bleeding still hasn’t stopped after the allotted time, trade the gauze for a tea bag.
To reduce swelling and numb any pain you are experiencing, ice either the tooth itself or the cheek around the tooth. You may also want to take pain killers to not only reduce discomfort but inflammation.
If you are unable to get to the dentist soon, you can pick up temporary dental cement at a drug store and follow the instructions to take care of your tooth.
How Your Dentist Will Care for your Broken Tooth
Minor cracks and chips in your tooth may not need any treatment save some polishing to smooth out the enamel, but for some cases, crowns or even root canals may be necessary.
If the cusp of your tooth has been broken, although no pain may have been involved, this will almost always entail a crown or onlay as treatment.
If you experienced a serious break in your tooth, a root canal will be required to remove any exposed nerves. In order to return your tooth to normal, your dentist will also probably insert a crown on the damaged tooth.
In the event of a root fracture, a root canal will be necessary and your dentist will need to remove any roots that are too damaged to stay in your mouth. Once the break has been cleaned up, you will need a crown as well. However, if the crack started at the root and extended up through the tooth, it is possible that the tooth as a whole will need to be removed.
Need a broken or chipped tooth repaired? Call us at our Friendly Dental of Worcester office at (508) 791-4000, Unique Dental of Worcester office at (508) 753-5488, Taunton Dental Center office at (508) 822-1281, Uxbridge Family Dental office at (508) 278-2015.