Restorative dentistry is common practice for many patients during their dental appointments. Maintaining a healthy relationship with your dentist is one of the most beneficial practices you can establish to maintain proper oral hygiene. Your smile says a lot about you, and it is often the first feature noticed when you meet someone new. Everyone should…
Common Treatments for a Broken Tooth
A cracked or broken tooth can be a painful experience. A crack in the enamel of the tooth can leave the pulp exposed, which is where the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues are located. Infection or inflammation in this area can be exceptionally painful. Cracked, chipped, or broken teeth should be carefully protected until they can be examined and treated by a professional.
What you can do
There are numerous reasons why a tooth may become damaged. You may eat something hard, fall and hit your mouth, or experience some type of sports accident. If you chip, crack, or break a tooth, the following steps should be taken immediately.
Make an appointment
Do not wait to have a broken tooth examined by your dentist. Many dental offices set aside blocks of time for emergency visits, so you may be able to get in the same day. If it is after hours or on a weekend, see if your dentist has a special number for emergencies, or find an emergency dentist that can see you right away.
Collect the pieces
Sometimes a piece of a broken tooth can be reattached. Even if that is not possible, it is helpful for the dentist to view the fragments to help determine the extent of the injury and the right course of treatment. Wrap tooth fragments in a piece of wet gauze and bring them with you to your appointment.
Treat the symptoms
If you are experiencing pain or swelling, the following steps can reduce the discomfort.
- Rinse with warm water
- Reduce swelling with a cold compress on your cheek
- Take ibuprofen or other over-the-counter pain medication
If you have throbbing pain in the tooth or jaw, experience a fever, have swelling in the cheek, or notice a strange taste in your mouth, there is a chance that you also have a tooth infection. This can become serious quickly, so immediate attention is necessary.
What the dentist can do
Having a broken tooth can have functional consequences, or it may just be an esthetic issue. Depending on the type and severity of your broken tooth, there are a number of treatment options the dentist can choose from.
Dental filling or bonding
If the chip is small, the tooth enamel can often be repaired with a filling. If the problem is visible when smiling, the dentist may apply a bonding procedure using a tooth-colored resin to blend in with the natural color. These procedures are relatively simple and require only one visit to the dentist.
Dental cap or crown
If the broken tooth is significant or if the tooth contains a large amount of decay, the dentist may choose to treat it with a crown, or a tooth-shaped cap, to enhance the appearance of the tooth and continue to protect it. Crowns are made of resin, metal, ceramic, or porcelain and metal fused together. Metal crowns are the strongest option, while resin and porcelain crowns blend well with the look of a natural tooth.
Placing a crown usually takes two visits. During the first one, the dentist takes a mold of the damaged tooth and sends it to a lab for the fabrication of the crown. During the second visit, the crown is placed and fitted.
When the broken tooth is in the front of the mouth, a dental veneer is a good option. This tooth-colored porcelain or resin composite shell covers the visible portion of the tooth.
Veneers also generally require two visits. After the initial visit, the thin shell is made in a lab, and then it is applied to the tooth on the second visit.
If the broken tooth has exposed the pulp, the tooth is susceptible to bacterial infection. Signs of trouble include sensitivity to heat or cold, a change in color, or pain in the tooth. Death of the pulp tissue often results in infection, which may require the extraction of the tooth. A root canal can prevent this issue by cleaning out the diseased pulp, flushing the root canal, and sealing the tooth. A crown is frequently used to cover the remaining tooth for added protection.
Because of the placement of a crown, a root canal takes two visits. During the first one, the damaged material is removed, and the tooth is sealed. The crown is placed on the next visit.
A broken tooth can be a painful experience, but taking the correct steps can save the tooth and prevent complications. Whether the break is minor or major, it is a good idea to make an appointment as soon as possible.
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