The incidents of teeth getting chipped, cracked or broken are extremely common. Biting hard on ice, injury to teeth while playing contact sports or excessive wear and tear, the reasons are many. Damage to teeth is a common occurrence.
Difference Between a Chipped, Cracked or Broken Tooth
When you chip your tooth, you may not experience any pain at all. However, if the chip is large enough to expose the inner layer of the tooth, you may feel pain since the nerves are exposed. Minor chips can be treated with dental fillings, but major chips may require dental crowns.
When a tooth is cracked, it may or may not be limited to the enamel of the tooth. It may be a surface crack or a fracture of the whole tooth. Consumption of hot or cold food or drinks may cause pain. Minor cracked tooth repair involves a crown or filling, but if the nerves or other tissues are damaged, a root canal may be prescribed.
Broken tooth is a more serious condition. If the pointed chewing surfaces of the teeth are broken, it may not cause pain. However, deep breaks will certainly lead to sensitivity or pain and even bleeding sometimes. A root canal is prescribed in such cases followed by a dental crown treatment to restore the broken tooth.
What are the Causes?
Teeth may chip, crack or break due to:
Excessive force used to bite on hard foods like ice or candy
Accidents in which a forceful blow is caused to the mouth
Severe teeth grinding while sleeping
Injury to mouth while playing contact sports without a mouth guard
What Immediate Steps Should You Take if You Chip, Crack or Break a Tooth?
In case you chip, crack or break your tooth, here’s what you need to do immediately:
- Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water.
- Put a cold compress on the outer side of the mouth near the affected area to reduce swelling.
- In case you have the piece of chipped, cracked or broken tooth, wrap it in wet gauze and bring it to your dentist.
- If you lose your tooth, wash it with water and place it a glass of milk, water or saline solution and try to reach your dentist within half an hour.
What are the Treatments for Chipped, Broken or Damaged Tooth?
The following treatments are prescribed for chipped, cracked, broken or damaged tooth/teeth:
This treatment is generally preferred if a large piece of tooth is broken. The dentist files away part of the remaining tooth and covers it with a tooth-shaped dental crown to protect the entire tooth and improve its appearance.
Dental Bonding or Filling
In case of a small chipped front tooth or minor chipping anywhere else, dental bonding or filling is sufficient. The surface of the damaged tooth is etched; an adhesive material is applied followed by a tooth-colored composite resin. Then the bonding material is shaped to resemble your natural teeth. Lastly, the resin is hardened with an ultraviolet light.
If the front teeth are chipped or damaged, dental veneers or porcelain veneers are used. These are wafer-thin customized shells which match the color of the rest of your teeth. They are bonded to the front surface of the teeth to cover any anomalies and change the color, shape, size or length of the teeth as desired.
In case your tooth has chipped, cracked or broken in a way that the pulp is exposed, bacteria can infect the pulp. The infected pulp tissue can die, and if it’s not removed, the infection can spread to the tooth and it may become mandatory to extract it. The treatment prescribed in such cases is root canal. It involves removing the dead pulp, cleaning the root canal and sealing it. Mostly, the tooth might be covered with a crown.
How Should you Care for a Chipped or Broken Tooth Yourself?
It is advisable that you contact your dentist immediately if you have a chipped, cracked or broken tooth. However, till you reach your dentist, these self-care tips can help prevent more damage and reduce pain:
- If the temporary dental filling material has come off, place sugar-free gum or dental wax over the exposed sharp end to protect gums and tongue
- Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller like Advil or Ibuprofen if you have pain
- With a cotton swab swipe some clove oil around the painful or swollen area
- If any food particles are caught between the damaged teeth, it can put excess pressure on that tooth thus resulting in more damage. Hence it’s important to remove the stuck food particles by carefully flossing them out
- Keep an ice pack on the outside of your mouth near the affected area to relieve pain if any
- In case you have to wait overnight to see your dentist and have the habit of teeth grinding, wear a mouth guard
Get in touch with us at Coral Dental Care in case you have a chipped, cracked or broken tooth or teeth. Our team of experts is dedicated to provide you exceptional dental care.
Dr. Anu Isaac, DMD, runs a successful dental practice in Salem, MA. Dr. Isaac strives for quality on a daily basis and this commitment to quality is reflected in her constant pursuit of advanced training. Her firm belief that even experts need to stay updated about what’s new in the dental field, enables her to provide every patient with optimal oral care. As the founder of Coral Dental Care, she is dedicated to creating healthy, beautiful smiles for her patients and also to educating dental and non-dental community with her engaging articles on all things related to oral health, recent dental innovations, and latest treatment modalities.