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Broken Front Tooth! What to do now

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Broken teeth in children
November 14, 2017
by Springvale Dental Clinic

One of the most common dental emergency today is a broken front tooth. You might be crunching on a piece of candy or ice when you notice something in your mouth that is not dissolving or melting away. You experience some discomfort and realize that you’ve just broken your tooth. Although your tooth’s enamel comprises one of the hardest and toughest parts of a tooth and can endure great pressure, its strength has some limits. It is possible for an enamel to break or fracture due to stress or trauma. If you notice that you’ve broken your tooth, don’t panic, there are quite a number of things that your dentist can do to restore the natural appearance of your tooth.
However, if your broken tooth is due to trauma to your head or face, treat that as a dental emergency and visit your dentist as soon as possible. This is especially if your trauma is associated with some dizziness, memory loss, disorientation, severe head or an earache, loss of consciousness or if you notice that your teeth do not fit properly after the trauma. The trauma may have resulted in injury to your brain, broken your jaw joint (TMJ) or caused bleeding inside your skull. This guide provides a comprehensive guide to you on what to do if you break your front tooth.

A Step-by-Step Guide on What to Do When You Break Your Front Teeth

Our teeth were not made in a way that they can handle hard candies, jawbreakers or even at times hard nuts. Also, there are times when the food we consume contains particles of nuts or bone. These small particles can affect our teeth in the worst way. It is advisable that you be careful any time you are eating especially if the food contains hard substances. Every patient reacts differently to a dental emergency; there are some who will get very distressed and panic because they are afraid of losing their tooth. While there are some, who will understand that if they take appropriate measures, it is not the end of the story. So, it is important to respond sensibly while dealing with a dental emergency such as a broken front tooth. If you or anyone close to you happen to break their teeth, here is a quick step-by-step guide on how you can deal with it before seeing a dentist.

Step 1: Rinse your Mouth

After experiencing any dental emergency, the first step should always be to rinse your mouth with some warm water. This will help you clear any blood or debris that may be present. Remember to be gentle when rinsing and stop if the pain becomes too great to bear.

Step 2: Stop any Bleeding

In case your broken tooth is bleeding, apply some pressure using a piece of gauze to stop the bleeding. Apply some pressure on the area and monitor the bleeding for about ten minutes until it stops. If the bleeding doesn’t stop, try applying a tea bag on the area.

Step 3: Reduce Swelling

If the area surrounding the broken tooth is swollen, try and use an ice pack to control the swelling. You will need to reduce the swelling in order to prevent any further injury and reduce the pain.

Step 4: Call Your Dentist

The broken tooth must be assessed by a dentist right away. The dentist will be able to determine if the nerve of the tooth was damaged or if it’s only a portion of the tooth that is damaged. The dentist will also be able to determine the best treatment for the tooth depending on the extent of thedamage.

Step 5: Cover the Tooth

In case you are in a situation that you are not able to see your emergency dentist right away, you may want to apply some dental cement to the remaining part of the tooth. You can find dental cement at any drugstore near you. Remember, this is just a temporary solution until you see a dentist.

Step 6: Take Some Pain Medication

Sometimes tooth breaks may result in a lot of pain. In case you are in pain, take over the counter painkillers. Consult your dentist for further recommendations. Use a cold compress to reduce your discomfort until you get to your dentist office.

Children with Broken Tooth

When the teeth of your child or baby (or primary teeth) are injured, the dentist can aesthetically restore them. However, it is not recommended to repair a knocked out or dislodged baby tooth. Further damage may be causedby the permanent tooth that is still developing underneath. Children who are developing adult teeth requires careful attention if they suffer dental trauma. After they have received any type of treatment, you should then schedule regular check-ups to make sure that the tooth is still growing as it is expected.

Is Broken Front Tooth a Dental Emergency?

If you experience a broken tooth, this is not something to be taken lightly. It may appear just as a cosmetic issue to you, but in fact, it might have caused more damage than it appear. If you fail to visit your dentist immediately, the broken tooth may result in a permanent and extensive damage that may be costly and involve a lot of dental procedures to repair. Even if you don’t think your broken tooth is very bad, you should still make a point of seeing your dentist as soon as possible. The neighbouring teeth might have also suffered some injury that cannot be detected immediately. Your dentist should be the first person to see when you experience a dental emergency in the form of a broken tooth. However, if you are experiencing unbearable pain, it’s a general rule of thumb that you should go directly to the emergency room.

Common Causes of Broken Tooth

A tooth may get broken, fractured or chipped off due to various reasons. Here are the most common causes of a broken tooth.

– Accidents

Your tooth may get broken in case you fall off a tree, dive while rollerblading or your partner unintentionally hits you while sleeping.

– Using your teeth as tools

Your teeth are designed for precise functions such as eating, speaking and smiling. They are not meant to be used as bottle openers, pliers or scissors. Using your teeth as tools could result in serious damages to not only your teeth but also your jaw.

– Chewing on Non-food Objects

Chewing on stiff, non- food objects can cause severe damages to your teeth. This comprises things you might be thinking are food such as popcorn kernels and ice, which are most likely to cause serious damage to your teeth. To avoid a broken tooth, do not put any non-food objects in your mouth.

– Playing Sports without a mouth guard

Any vigorous exercise can put your teeth at the risk of breaking. Every time a group of people is running around together, there is always a high risk of tripping and colliding, this could result in falls that will break your teeth. Thisincludes everything from a pickup game of basketball to a professional football match. You should keep in mind that even sports that do not involve any contact come with theunexpectedly amount of contact. It is recommended always to have a mouth guard on whenever you are playing any sports to protect your teeth.

– Having a bad bite

Whenever you have an imbalanced bite, some of your teeth are put on greater force than your other teeth. In some cases, you might notice a problem as you can see how your crooked teeth bite down irregularly. In other cases, you may be thinking you have a good bite but there is an actual problem, and you may not know it until it is too late. The good news is, your dentist can notice these signs on your regular dental check-ups.

– Getting your tongue or cheek pierced

Oral jewelry in your mouth can chip or crack your teeth. A jewelry is a foreign object that is usually made of metal, that is making movements in your mouth, and it is most likely to cause harm to your enamel. Mouth piercings can also cause receding gums.

– Fixing dental cavities with metal amalgam

In some instances, fixing a dental cavity can put your tooth at risk if you use a wrong type of material. Metal amalgam may be of service in many circumstances, but it can also be a risk to your teeth. Metal amalgam makes your tooth to become weak when it is being placed and overtime. This means that you may end up suffering a broken tooth because of it.

– Getting large cavities

Developing a large dental cavity weakens your teeth. In case you do not notice the cavity or try and get it fixed, it may put your tooth at the risk of cracking open.

Types of Broken Tooth

Craze Lines

Craze lines are small cracks that affect the outer enamel of a tooth. They are most common in adult teeth. Craze lines are shallow cracks that do not cause pain and are of little concern beyond appearance.

Fractured Cusp

A fractured cusp is formed when a piece of a tooth’s chewing surface breaks off; itmostly occurs around a filling. It rarely causes damage to the pulp, and it is less painful. Your dentist might place a crown or a new filling over the tooth to protect it.

A cracked tooth

A cracked tooth means a crack has extended from the chewing surface area vertically towards the root. The tooth has not yet parted into pieces though the crack might progressively spread. Visiting your dentist as early as possible is essential to save your tooth. A root canal procedure may be used to treat the tooth if a crack has not extended into the pulp and a crown to prevent the crack from spreading. However, if the crack has extended below the gum line, there is no way the tooth can be treated or saved. This means that a tooth extraction will be required. This explains why early treatment is very vital. A crack on the tooth that does not get treatment on time will gradually worsen, finally resulting in tooth loss.

Split tooth

A split tooth is mostly caused by a cracked tooth that has progressively worsened over time. A split tooth is identified by a crack with different pieces that can be detached. The extent of the crack or its position determines whether a tooth can be saved or not.

Vertical Root Fracture

This is a crack that begins at the root of the tooth and extends towards the chewing surface. The signs and symptoms of a vertical root fracture are very minimal; therefore, it may take some time before it is noticed. It is mostly discovered when the surrounding gum and bone becomes infected. Treatment may involve removal of the tooth. Nevertheless, an endodontic surgery is often suitable if the tooth can be saved by extraction of the fractured portion.

Treatment of Broken Tooth

Treatment of Broken Tooth

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a procedure used to repair cracked, chipped, broken, gaps and discoloured teeth. Bonding involves the use of adental resin which resembles the colour of your natural teeth. Dental bonding can go up to ten years. During this procedure, anesthesia is not necessary unless bonding is being used for cavities. Compared to other methods of repairing a broken tooth, this is the most pocket-friendly and involves afewer number of trips to the dentist. Even though the dentist can be able to repair your teeth within just a single visit, the material used is not as strong compared to other methods. This method is suitable for teeth that are not involved much in biting.

Dental Veneers

Veneers are simply a cover for a tooth. Veneers are typically made of porcelain because they have much resemblance to the natural teeth. The veneer is bonded to the front tooth, thus transforming its appearance. With proper care, dental veneers can last up to 30 years, so you don’t have to worry about visiting the dentist time and again to get them replaced. You can have veneers placed on a single tooth or a number of them. Veneers are a perfect solution for a broken tooth but if you have the tendency of grinding your teeth the method might not work for you. Here is how veneers are placed

– The tooth is first prepared for veneers. This means that the dentist will first have to remove some tooth structure so that the tooth does not appear to be bulky.

– The impression will need to be taken. This is the point where you will have an opportunity of choosing the size, shape, and shade of your veneer.

– The dentist will then require time to create the veneers in the lab. In the meantime, you will be required to wear temporary veneers.

– The dentist will remove the temporary veneers at a later appointment and replace them with the new ones.

Dental Crown

If the crack formed by the broken teeth is long and deep, a dental crown may be preferred. Crowns are among the most common dental procedures. They are particularly important if you experience some sensitivity or pain while chewing or drinking. Crowns are made out of porcelain, and they are used as a cover for the damaged tooth, allowing the patient to restore or even improve the appearance and shape of a tooth. Your dentist may suggest that you use of dental crown on your front tooth if the tooth was badly broken and there isn’t enough usable tooth left to bond. While using thedental crown to fix a broken teeth, you might be required to spend a bit more time in the dentist chair or even come back for some few more appointments. However, all the time spent getting a dental crown is not in vain since you can expect it to last more than dental bonding.

Root Canal

Some cracks caused by a broken tooth affects not only the outer part of the tooth but also the inside. You might require a root canal if the crack is deep enough to the extent that it has reached the pulp of your tooth located beneath the enamel. When the dentist uses a root canal, your tooth might also require a dental crown to protect the crack from spreading. The root canal treatment involves getting rid of decayed tooth matter and removing the nerve. Root canal procedure has a reputation for being painful. However, if it is done the right way, there is little to no pain involved. If you have some swelling, sensitivity or a toothache, a root canal treatment may be necessary. Left untreated, the infection can spread causing bone loss, abscess or any other serious problem.

Dental Implant

A broken tooth is not treatable once the crack reaches the gum line. This means that the dentist will be forced to remove the tooth. However, this does not mean that you will be left toothless. Your dental specialist can install a dental implant in the jawbone to replace the root of your teeth. The implant is then covered by a dental crown so that it appears just like your natural tooth.

Why does a Broken Tooth Need to be fixed?

Whenever an outside of a tooth gets broken, it makes the inside of the tooth or pulp to become irritated. Pulp comprises of tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels, this irritation results in discomfort and pain. Chewing and biting pressure causes pinching of the pulp resulting in a quick and sharp pain. The more irritated the pulp gets, the higher the risks of getting an infection with larger dental issues in store. Therefore, it is very important to know the signs and symptoms of a cracked tooth so that you can prevent any significant damage from happening. In case you feel some sensitivity when your tooth gets exposed to cold or heat or feel some sharp pain while biting down or chewing on a hard food, then there are chances that you might have a cracked tooth. Even though a crack may only cause minimal discomfort to start with, it is important to visit your dentist for a check-up. Your dentist will determine most suitable treatment for your tooth depending on the location and size of the crack. A cracked tooth is mostly fixed with a crown or filling; this ensures that the tooth is firm. In occasions when a tooth is seriously damaged, your dentist will suggest a root canal treatment or a tooth extraction (this is uncommon for a simply cracked tooth). Early treatment can assist you to avoid complications down the road.

Effects of a Broken Tooth

Once a tooth gets broken it can lead to various effects that range from mild to severe. Below are some of the effects;

– Tooth sensitivity

In case a tooth loses a portion or most of its dentine there are higher chances for a person to experience some sensitivity while consuming cold and hot foods or drinks.

– No pain

Instances when a tooth has lost only a part of its enamel, you might not feel any pain.

– Intense pain

When the innermost layer (pulp) of a broken tooth gets exposed, you might experience severe pain because the nerves have been exposed.

– Lowered immunity

Recently studies have shown that when a tooth gets decayed, bacteria find an easy way of getting into the blood circulation. Thus, your immunity may get compromised.

How to Avoid a Broken Tooth

There are some few things that you can do to reduce your risk of developing a broken tooth significantly. The first thing you should do is always to wear a mouth guard when you are playing any sport. It might be hockey, soccer, rugby, wrestling; or any other that you play. You can pick up a mouth guard from your dentist during your appointments or even from a local supermarket, so there is no excuse for leaving your teeth vulnerable to damage. The other thing and the most dangerous that you should avoid is opening jars, bottles and tearing packets using your teeth. Your teeth are not originally meant to support the kind of pressure that comes from such actions. Avoid it just to be sensible and use a tool that is meant to do the work. It is that simple!

Bottom Line

The nature of the dental injury, the amount of time taken before treatment and type of care provided after the accident are some of the factors that determine thesuccess of tooth repair. Remember to treat broken tooth as a dental emergency if you would like to save your teeth and prevent any further injuries. The best thing you should do is to contact your dentist as soon as the accident happens. It is also vital to take care of your tooth after treatment. Brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and also remember to floss. Also, visit your dentist on a regular basis.

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