Our teeth are meant to last a lifetime, and towards that end, they are made of the strongest substances in the human body. While your smile should provide years and years of service, the truth is that accidents happen. You may bite down too hard on a piece of ice or a nut, you may trip and fall, or something inadvertent may happen during an athletic pursuit. The result of these mishaps may be a broken tooth. This is unfortunate and serious, but it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Let’s talk about what to do for a broken tooth should the worst occur…
What Happens When You Break a Tooth?
First, let’s take another look at how broken teeth occur. As we note above, accidents and mishaps are some of the most common causes of broken teeth. While no one plans on an accident–that’s why they’re called accidents!–there are some things you can do to mitigate the risks of a broken tooth occurring. Wearing mouthguards during athletic activities, avoiding crunching down on ice, nuts, or other solid food, and being careful while climbing stairs all help ensure that you’re at low risk for a broken tooth. Another cause of broken teeth is damage to the tooth from cavities or other oral health issues. Cavities weaken teeth by damaging the protective outer layer of enamel, and therefore weakening the whole tooth. The best way to prevent cavities, and thus help prevent broken teeth, is by implementing and following a good oral health routine. This includes regular and effective brushing and flossing, regular trips to the dentist for exams and cleanings and a healthy diet.
What to Do if You Break a Tooth
So if the worst occurs and you break a tooth, what should you do? The first step is, as always, “Don’t Panic”. Broken teeth are serious and shouldn’t be ignored, but they’re not life-threatening. There are a variety of forms a broken tooth can take. Some are deep cracks in the surface of the tooth, some involve breaking a section of the tooth off entirely. Symptoms of a broken tooth may include pain, especially while chewing or drinking, sensitivity to heat and cold, a visible break or crack in the tooth, and in some severe cases, bleeding. Should you notice any of the above, take the following actions immediately:
Rinse your mouth with warm salt water.
If you’re having pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever, like acetaminophen.
To prevent a sharp or jagged edge from cutting your tongue or mouth, cover the broken tooth with a piece of wax
When you eat, stick to soft foods and avoid using your broken tooth to chew until you can get to the dentist.
After all of these are in place, get in touch with Dr. Stenvall immediately. She and the QCDA team can help determine what needs to be done.
How to Fix a Broken Tooth
Dr. Stenvall will know how best to fix your broken tooth, depending on the kind of damage and the extent of the damage. There are a number of possible options, including a dental crown to cover and protect the top of a broken tooth, dental bonding to replace a missing section of tooth, or a dental veneer to cover the damage cosmetically. Again, it all depends on your individual situation. In some severe cases the tooth may need to be extracted or a root canal may need to be performed. The latter leaves the tooth more or less intact and functional, while the former removes the tooth entirely.
If an extraction is needed and the tooth is removed, never fear. There are a number of ways to replace a lost tooth, including bridges and dental implants. Again, Dr. Stenvall can tell you which one is right for you.
Broken teeth are serious, but they’re nothing to be afraid of. Take reasonable precautions, follow a good oral health routine, and, if the worst happens, contact the team at Queen City Dental Arts. We will ensure that even if you do break a tooth, your smile remains the best that it can be.