Understanding Broken Teeth
Everyday your teeth are subjected to constant wear and tear. If you consider that the average person will eat at least three meals a day, with possible snacks in between. Additionally to this many people enjoy sugary drinks and drinks that can cause staining, such as red wine and coffee.
In a typical day your teeth will be exposed to strain and stress as they are used constantly by your jaw and facial muscles. Certain foods can be really testing on your teeth: a tough piece of steak, a crusty bit of bread, a chewy toffee. Even during a normal meal your teeth might knock together as you eat.
Due to the relentless way your teeth are used, they are exposed to continuous friction and wear. Each movement of your jaw causes your teeth to come into contact with each other. This is not exclusive only to daytime – it is common for people to grind their teeth while they sleep. This is known as Bruxism. Although this is not an unusual problem and should not be a cause for alarm, it does have a negative impact on your teeth and can mean that they will weaken and wear away faster than they should do.
This section will explain the types of emergency dental treatment that you might need if your teeth become damaged or broken. It will explore the varying techniques that your dentist can use to repair broken or fractured teeth, as well as explain the different ways that this damage can happen to your teeth.
What can cause broken teeth?
Generally teeth are fractured quite accidentally and suddenly. The most frequent way this occurs (and the most painful) is by unexpectedly biting into something hard. This may be a shock when it happens, but when you take into account the different strain and duress that teeth are placed under, it is understandable that they might fracture from time to time.
In more severe situations, an impact or trauma to the mouth or face can cause damage to your teeth. This kind of dental injury could be caused by being struck, or in a fall.
In some circumstances, where there may be an underlying problem, such as a cavity or advancing decay, the tooth can become weak causing it to splinter, fracture or crack. At worst, if the decay is very severe, the tooth may need to be removed. In the next part of Malmin Dental Group will explore the different kinds of fractures that you teeth can incur.
What are the different kinds of tooth fracture?
There are many different kinds of ‘tooth fracture’: a minor fracture can in some cases only need a small amount of treatment, if any at all, while a more severe fracture will require an urgent visit to an emergency dentist.
Firstly, let’s look at the types of tooth fracture are not too concerning.
Surface cracks to a tooth
There are varying degrees of a cracked tooth, and although this may sound alarming, many people will have surface cracks in the enamel of their teeth that they are not even aware of, there are known as ‘craze lines’. Usually, these craze lines are not associated with decay and do not cause sensitivity or pain so do not need to be treated. However, regular check-ups with your dentist will allow them to make sure that the surface cracks do not worsen.
A chipped tooth:
Just like surface cracks, a chip to your tooth is usually a sign that there is only damage to the outer enamel. The pulp on the inside of the tooth is still intact and cannot be reached by decay. Just like surface cracks, a chip does not normally cause sensitivity or pain and the treatment involved using bonding material to repair the cosmetic appearance of the tooth.
A tooth with a broken cusp:
The surface of the tooth that is used to bite is called the ‘cusp’. It is not uncommon for this to break when you bite into something hard. Like a chip or surface crack, this does not normally cause any pain. However if the broken cusp results in food becoming lodged in the tooth, or if there are problems when chewing, your dentist may advise that the tooth has a crown fitted over it or is reshaped.
The things mentioned so far are the simple, less complex ways in which your teeth can become damaged. The following section will explore the more serious ways that teeth can be broken, and the emergency dental treatment you may need.
A tooth that is badly cracked:
A deep crack in a tooth, unlike a surface crack, will need treatment. A crack that is spotted early can be filled, but if decay has set in or if the crack is really bad, this may not be possible. This is why it is crucial that you regularly visit your dentist, as they will be able to detect early signs of problems in your teeth and potentially avoid the need for more complicated dentistry in future years.
A tooth that is broken:
Sometimes when you crack your tooth, the root will stay in position and if you are fortunate, the pulp on the inside of the tooth will remain protected from infection and decay. However, a more severely broken tooth may have an exposed blood supply and nerve; this would be instantly painful and require urgent treatment to stop any bleeding.
In these circumstances your dentist would need to perform a root canal to take out the pulp of the tooth. Following that, to prevent the tooth from deteriorating and breaking further, a crown or cap will be placed over the tooth.
A tooth that has split:
If a tooth has split it is likely that both the root and the crown of the tooth will also be affected by the split. In some circumstances, you may experience bad toothache. This can happen when a split root becomes infected.
If the tooth is badly split it may not be likely that the dentist can repair it and it may need to be extracted. However, if the damage to the tooth is not too severe, your dentist may be able to repair it using a crown in the same way they would if it were a broken tooth.
How can you help at home?
A simple thing you can do from home if you are experiencing toothache is to take over-the-counter painkillers. You may also find that you have an aching in your cheek and jaw, if this is the case you can apply an icepack to your face at the point of pain.
The best course of action for a broken tooth is to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible. If the damage has resulted in a piece of your tooth breaking off, your dentist may be able to use cement to reattach it, so it is advisable to keep it and take it with you to the appointment.