Teeth contain some of the hardiest, most resilient substances in our bodies. They’re made to last, in every possible meaning of the word. That’s what the “Brushing your teeth twice a day keeps a doctor away!” saying teaches us, right? Nonetheless, accidents happen, leading to severe dental issues such as chipped and broken teeth.
The National Dental Practice-Based Research Network published in 2013 the results of an extensive study, leading to the following conclusions: in the U.S., 66.1% of patients had at least one cracked molar, and 46.2% of patients had more than one cracked molar. Especially for children and teens, falls and sports-related injuries make up the bulk of chipped and broken teeth causes. As such, the dental injury danger is all-present, which is why practicing caution is a dental health requisite.
However, let’s suppose that an accident did occur, and you have a crisis on your hands. “Can broken teeth be fixed?” “What to do with a chipped tooth?” Our Loudoun Orthodontics team is ready to shed some light on this subject and teach you how to receive proper care for your chipped or broken teeth. The bottom line is, no DIY treatment is effective or safe enough to undo dental injury; calling upon a dentist is paramount. Furthermore, our orthodontic team is prepared to help prevent future tooth damage by creating personalized mouth guards for you! Let’s dive deeper into the subject and help repair your confident, natural smile.
What Causes Chipped and Broken Teeth?
As various as dental injury patients, so are chipped and broken teeth causes. Some categories, such as athletes, are more predisposed to such injury, while others stay more on the safe side. However, on a general basis, the following causes are the leading dental injury culprits:
- Teeth grinding
- Chewing and biting hard foods
- Mouth temperature abrupt changes (e.g., combining hot coffee with ice cream)
- Fillings that weaken tooth integrity
- Mouth injuries (e.g., caused by falls, sports-related injuries, accidents, or fights)
How to Act after You Chipped or Broke a Tooth
Unfortunately, an accident did occur, causing a piece to break from the tooth’s main body. The essential factors now are self-control and efficiency; the situation might be difficult, but you’ve got this!
You will start by rinsing the injured area with warm water in order to clean it from any impurities. Bleeding is sure to commence; for that reason, make sure that you apply a cold compress to the injured area to inhibit the blood flow and reduce swelling. Another helpful step is applying clove oil, rich with eugenol (a numbing, anti-inflammatory agent), to the injured area.
If severe pain starts to affect the injured area, you can resort to over-the-counter pain relievers or anti-inflammatories, though practicing caution is advised.
After successfully securing the injured area, the next step is to contact your dentist right away. However, before you dash to the dentist’s office, don’t forget about the broken tooth piece (if possible, wrap it in wet gauze)!
Why Do You Feel Pain after You Break or Chip a Tooth?
To answer this question, we need to take a closer look at the tooth anatomy. The inside of the tooth, hidden behind enamel and dentin layers, consists of a soft tissue called the pulp, which contains the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels. Tooth cracks expose the pulp to external factors, making it prone to irritation, sensitivity, and, in extreme cases, infection. More severe tooth cracks can lead to infection spread to the bone and gum tissue around the tooth.
The pain levels felt by the patient may vary. In some instances, patients barely feel any pain, while other patients require pain relievers. However, falling into the former category doesn’t save you from potential infection. Therefore, scheduling an appointment with your dentist right from the start is of the essence.
How to Repair Chipped or Broken Teeth
You’ve finally arrived at the dentist’s office, anxious to have your chipped or broken teeth repaired promptly. Your dentist will first assess the injured area and propose a course of action depending on the injury severity. As a rule of thumb, the following three treatments make up the top dental repair techniques for chipped and broken teeth:
#1: Cosmetic Contouring
In the case of slight damage (e.g., with no connection to the pulp), your dentist could propose the following tooth repair approaches, which can be performed during a single visit:
- Cosmetic contouring: the dentist polishes and smooths the tooth surface.
- Dental bonding: the dentist employs a tooth-colored composite resin to return the tooth to its original shape.
#2: Root Canal Filling
Matters become more serious when the damage reaches the inner pulp. Such an injury calls for more extensive repair in the shape of a root canal filling. Such a procedure calls for an endodontist’s help.
During a root canal filling procedure, the endodontist removes the infected pulp, cleans the inside of the tooth, seals the injured area with a rubber-like substance, and covers the tooth with a filling or a crown. The results from this restorative procedure can last for many years, as long as we take dental hygiene seriously.
In case of extensive damage to one of the molar roots (molars have several roots), your dentist might recommend a surgical procedure called a hemisection to remove the fractured root. Furthermore, they will also perform a root canal filling and add a crown on the remaining tooth.
However, surgery cannot always work miracles on chipped or broken teeth. Depending on the injury severity, you might be left with no other choice but extraction. If you agree to tooth extraction, your dentist will recommend a dental implant to replace the lost tooth.
Schedule your COMPLIMENTARY Consultation!
Caring for your teeth is not always an easy task. In case of unfortunate accidents, calling upon the help of a dentist or endodontist is paramount to keep your natural, confident smile intact. In the meantime, our Loudoun Orthodontics team is ready to teach you how to protect your teeth more efficiently. To learn more about dental hygiene and health, contact our medical team for a complimentary consultation and check out our blog for more helpful resources!