Once upon a time, Maria’s dazzling smile could light up any room — until one fateful day, when she found herself in the battle of tooth versus crouton. In spite of the crouton’s victory, Maria ended up with two broken teeth and a quest to rebuild her perfect smile. She wondered, “Why are my teeth breaking so easily?” given her hard teeth all her life.
It was fortunate that she stumbled upon Loudoun Orthodontics, where the highly skilled team led by Dr. Richard J. Lee, MD, provides various treatment options for broken teeth. Soon enough, Maria’s radiant smile was ready to conquer the world once more!
What is a Chipped or Broken Tooth?
You can mess up even the brightest and healthiest smile with a chipped or broken tooth. Anything can cause our pearly whites to chip or break when they decide to rebel against us — from biting into the world’s hardest granola bar to a surprise encounter with the sidewalk. We are left puzzled and feeling incomplete by the jagged art that results.
In any case, no need to worry, as every chipped or broken tooth is an opportunity for dental experts to repair our precious outer enamel and restore our self-esteem. If you ever find yourself with a chipped or broken tooth, remember — even the most beautiful sculptures sometimes need a little attention.
What Parts of the Tooth are More Susceptible to Breaking?
Several layers and components make up our teeth, but some components are more likely to crack than others. As a result of daily activities such as chewing and biting, chewing surfaces and cusps are the most vulnerable parts of a tooth to cracking.
It is more common for molars and premolars to crack due to grooves and fissures that can harbor bacteria, leading to decay. Weakened enamel due to decay can result in cracks on these chewing surfaces.
It is also likely that the cusps on the biting surfaces of the teeth might crack sooner or later. That’s because they bear the brunt of the force during chewing and grinding, making them more susceptible to wear and tear.
Will a Cracked or a Broken Tooth Heal on Its Own?
Unlike other tissues in the body, tooth enamel cannot regenerate or repair itself once damaged, so broken or cracked teeth will not heal on their own. As teeth are composed of minerals such as hydroxyapatite, they lack living cells to facilitate repair and regeneration.
In the event of a cracked or broken tooth, it is important to seek dental treatment as soon as possible to avoid further complications, including tooth sensitivity, pain, infection, and even tooth loss.
In order to restore a tooth to its full functionality and appearance, dentists may recommend dental bonding, fillings, crowns, root canal therapy, or extraction depending on the extent of the damage.
1. Tooth Decay
A cavity is formed when bacteria in your mouth produce acids that weaken the enamel and dentin of your teeth, causing tooth decay. As the decay progresses, it causes the tooth to lose material, increasing the risk of breaking under pressure from daily activities like chewing.
2. Clenching or Grinding Teeth
In bruxism, teeth are grinded or clenched excessively during sleep or during stressful times, causing them to crack or fracture over time due to excessive force. As a result of prolonged bruxism, tooth surfaces can wear down, further weakening the tooth structure and increasing the risk of breakage.
3. Acid Erosion
As a result of exposure to acidic substances, tooth enamel is gradually eroded, which makes the teeth more likely to break. Foods and beverages rich in acid, such as citrus fruits, soda, and wine, gradually erode enamel, causing the teeth to wear away. By regurgitating stomach acids during regurgitation, certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux or bulimia, can also lead to acid erosion.
4. Trauma or Injury
Trauma can cause chips, cracks, fractures, or knocked-out teeth in the oral cavity due to accidents, sports injuries, or other forms of trauma.
5. Poor Oral Hygiene
A lack of proper oral hygiene can cause a buildup of plaque and tartar, resulting in gum disease and tooth decay. Weakening support structures and tooth loss also make teeth more susceptible to breaking.
6. Age-Related Changes
As you age, your teeth naturally become weaker and more likely to break. Several factors contribute to dental health issues, including broken teeth, including wear and tear, changes in saliva production, and a reduction in the tooth’s natural ability to repair itself.
What to Do if You Have a Chipped or Broken Tooth
If In order to prevent further complications from a chipped tooth, you should take the following steps:
- Rinse your mouth gently with warm water to remove any debris and clean the affected area.
- Use a clean cloth or gauze to apply gentle pressure if bleeding is occurring. Keep applying pressure until the bleeding has stopped.
- Reduce swelling and pain by applying an ice pack or cold compress wrapped in a cloth to your cheek around the chipped tooth.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed.
- You should avoid eating hard, crunchy, or sticky foods until you can see a dentist. Stick to soft foods and chew on the opposite side of your mouth until you can see a dentist.
- Whenever you have a chipped tooth with a sharp or jagged edge, cover it with sugar-free gum or dental wax.
- Make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to have your chipped tooth examined and treated.
Available Treatment Options for Broken Teeth
It is important to note that there are several treatment options available for broken teeth, and your dental professional will determine the best course of action based on your specific situation.
For minor chips or fractures, dental bonding is an effective method of treatment. The resin is shaped to match the natural contours of the tooth and then hardened with a special curing light. Dental bonding is a quick and cost-effective way to fix minor tooth damage.
For moderately damaged teeth, such as those with significant fractures or cavities, dental fillings can repair them. In order to restore the tooth’s structure and prevent further decay or damage, the dentist first removes the damaged part of the tooth and then fills the cavity with composite resin or amalgam.
If your tooth is severely damaged or if you have lost most of the tooth structure, a crown may be necessary. A crown covers all the visible parts of a tooth, protecting it from further damage and restoring its function and appearance.
First, the dentist removes any decay from the tooth and reshapes it so it can accommodate the crown. After taking an impression of the tooth, a dental lab fabricates the crown, and a temporary crown is placed until the permanent crown is made. When the crown is ready, it is cemented onto the prepared tooth.
Root Canal Treatment
When the pulp of a tooth, which contains nerves and blood vessels, is exposed or infected due to a break, root canal treatment may be necessary.
As part of a root canal procedure, the dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp tissue, cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth, and then fills and seals it with rubber-like material. Lastly, a dental crown is placed over the treated tooth to protect and restore its function.
In dental emergencies, extraction is necessary when the tooth is severely damaged or cannot be saved. For function and aesthetics to be restored, the dentist may recommend a dental implant, bridge, or denture to replace the broken tooth.
Dealing With Broken or Chipped Teeth? Loudoun Orthodontics Can Help!
Contact Loudoun Orthodontics if you think orthodontic treatment is the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (703) 858-0303 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today to book a complimentary orthodontic consultation! Our office, located at 19465 Deerfield Ave, Suite 304, Leesburg, VA 20176, proudly serves not just Loudoun County but also the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Ashburn, Lansdowne, or Sterling, and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Virginia, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!
- “Dental Fillings.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/dental-fillings. Accessed 28 Apr. 2023.
- Jayasudha, et al. “Enamel Regeneration – Current Progress and Challenges.” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4226000/. Accessed 28 Apr. 2023.
- “Learn More about Dental Bonding for Your Teeth.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-bonding. Accessed 28 Apr. 2023.