We use our teeth on a daily basis for eating, smiling and communicating with others. Teeth allow us to chew soft and hard foods, provide facial structure for expression and enable us to form words to communicate with others. When teeth become damaged or broken all these functions are affected, as is our confidence levels and sense of well-being.
Teeth may fracture, crack or break from wear, a sporting impact, biting down on a hard object, an accident, an assault, tooth cavity or due to dental decay and oral infection. The reasons why teeth may break are numerous and only a dental professional can assess the extent of damage for tooth restoration or extraction. In most cases, dentists strive to preserve existing dental structure.
The type of tooth damage determines the level and kind of dental treatment needed. There are different types of tooth damage:
A tooth fracture may be hairline thin, wide enough so that the enamel is affected or more seriously can extend into the dental pulp or near the tooth root. An avulsed tooth hanging by a dental nerve may start off as a milder tooth fracture.
A tooth fracture or break may necessitate root canal treatment depending on the severity of damage. If the nerve and blood vessels within the dental pulp are exposed, infection may set in causing pain and potential tooth loss.
Only a dental professional may assess this condition and recommend appropriate treatment options. An inlay, onlay or white composite filling can sometimes suffice. In other cases, a crown or entire tooth replacement such as a bridge or partial denture may be necessary if tooth extraction is necessary.
Teeth with dental restorations such as inlays, onlays, caps and crowns may fracture or break. In such cases, a dentist will need to evaluate the damage to both the existing tooth and restoration to determine treatment needs.
Artificial teeth such as dental implants, crown-supported bridges or dentures may also fracture or break. We provide denture repair, crown and bridge restoration and teeth replacement services through our emergency dental care service.
A tooth chip is usually to the outer enamel tooth surface, but may extend to the dentin or inner pulp layer if the tooth fractures or breaks. Early treatment through emergency dentistry for a chipped tooth ensures further breakage and infection is prevented. Treatments such as white composite filling or bonding may be used to restore a chipped tooth.
When a tooth splits it usually fractures from the upper crown of the tooth to the bottom root. Tooth splits are painful and raise the risk of tooth infection and decay. If the tooth cannot be saved and treated by dental crown or onlay, the tooth may need to be extracted and replaced by an artificial tooth. Treatment options include implants, crowns, bridges or dentures.
A tooth crack may be on the surface, the outer enamel, or affect the inner dentin and pulp. It can even have an effect on the tooth root. Daily tooth wear causes fine tooth cracks on the tooth surface and dentists may advise restoration treatment or filling during a dental check-up.
Severe tooth cracks usually require emergency dentistry treatment to prevent infection and alleviate pain. Should a tooth split or crack result in root canal infection, root canal therapy may be required to restore health and prevent further spread of infection.
The cusp of the tooth is the upper tooth crown furthest away from the tooth root and gum line. The tooth cusp can naturally become flatter over time from chewing and wear. However, a broken tooth cusp may result in further breakage and expose the inner tooth pulp. Immediate dental care is important to prevent this from happening. Dentists usually fit a crown or cap over the tooth cusp to restore tooth structure.
Tooth infection may be minor starting with inflamed gums or gingivitis. Infected gums may infect the tooth root and inner tooth pulp. Some people experience pus build-up in a dental abscess around the tooth and in their gums. Tooth infection is an emergency and should be treated immediately to remove infection and prevent spread of infection.
Untreated tooth infection may spread to the root canals requiring root canal treatment or tooth extraction. Further health complications may arise such as bone loss, nerve damage and spread of infection via the blood supply, weakening the immune system and causing other health complications.
Individuals with broken teeth should contact their dentist for an appointment immediately. When the situation is severe, emergency dental care should be sought. In the interim painkillers may be used to alleviate pain and a compress applied to the side of the face where the dental pain is located.
If any part of the tooth or dental restoration has broken off the broken part should be kept and given to the dentist at the appointment. Depending on the type of broken tooth a dentist may restore the tooth through composite white filling, inlay, onlay or crown.
Where infection is present root canal treatment may be needed to eliminate the infection. In severe cases of infection and tooth damage, tooth extraction may be required but dentists do aim to preserve the existing tooth as best as possible.
Practising good oral hygiene techniques is necessary to prevent oral infection and development of tooth decay. Tooth decay sets in where plaque attracts bacteria and forms tartar, which is solid and not removable by teeth brushing or flossing. Only professional teeth cleaning by a dentist or dental hygienist may remove the plaque and tartar from hard to reach areas.
Missing dental check-ups or proper teeth cleaning may lead to tooth decay that weakens tooth structure, resulting in tooth fractures, breaks, splits, chips and cracks. Tooth decay increases dental cavities raising the risk of dental infection.
These unhealthy conditions may be avoided by visiting the dentist to receive early diagnosis and treatment. Good oral hygiene, eating a balanced diet and following a healthy lifestyle all contribute to the prevention of tooth decay.
Get in touch with us by phone or email for further information about dental care, treatments and how best to prevent broken teeth. We have a friendly team on hand to answer any questions and book an appointment.