We all long for healthy teeth, but sometimes we have to deal with dental emergencies involving fractured or broken teeth at least once in a lifetime. Teeth enamel might be the strongest and hardest organ in the human body, but sometimes, when it's subjected to a strong external force or hard object, it can break or fracture. Tooth fractures sometimes might not be painful if it’s just on the enamel surface, but it constitutes a dental emergency because you don’t know how deep the crack extends. You must consult a reliable dentist within your locale for a quick diagnosis and evaluation of the fracture’s extent to save your tooth/teeth.
At Ganji Dental, we understand how fractured and broken teeth can affect the aesthetic appearance of your smile and dental health as well. Reach us today if you are in Hawthorne, California, to know how we can restore your dental health to smile again confidently.
What are the Causes of Fractured and Broken Teeth?
Apart from teeth being remarkably strong, sometimes they have some limits. A tooth fracture can happen suddenly when eating something hard. Other times, you might not even notice that you have tooth fracture until you start feeling some sensitivity when drinking or eating something very warm or cold. When that happens, you might want to talk to your family dentist or nearest dentist for diagnosis and treatment. Here are common causes of fractured and broken teeth among most patients:
Facial trauma resulting from a motorist accident can lead to teeth breakage or fractures. Accidents are random things we never expect when you choose to walk or drive around the streets. After involvement in an accident with much physical impact on your face area leading to teeth breakage or fractures, you should see a dentist as soon as possible for a comprehensive evaluation of the severity of the crack for proper treatment.
Chewing or Biting Hard Food or Objects
Teeth play a crucial role in initiating the first step of digestion, but they have limits to things they can chew. Teeth are strong enough to chew most of the food we consume at home, but particular types of foods like nuts, ice, or candy can challenge the tooth enamel’s strength. Using teeth for the wrong purpose can also lead to teeth breakage or fractures, such as using teeth to open sealed soda bottles.
Excessive Teeth Grinding
Excessive teeth grinding, also commonly known as bruxism, is a habitual oral activity unrelated to the teeth’ normal functions. Excessive teeth grinding happen unconsciously when a person is asleep or awake. The pressure exerted on the teeth enamel due to excessive teeth grinding causes fractures and cracks on the teeth with time.
Abrupt Temperature Changes in Your Mouth
A sudden or abrupt change of temperature in your mouth can make the teeth crack. Most patients who break their teeth because of abrupt temperature change in their mouth are usually trying to soothe pain in their mouth using cold water after eating or drinking something hot. Sudden expansion and contraction of the teeth caused by abrupt intake of something extremely cold or warm can make the teeth break or fracture.
Age of a Person
As we grow old, our teeth also experience wear and tear, which sometimes develop to cracks or fractures. Teeth fractures and breakages in older people are mostly due to a lack of proper nutrients that are essential for teeth strength. Saliva contains major minerals like calcium and magnesium, which make teeth remarkably strong. Lack of saliva in the mouth, also known as dry mouth, which mostly affects older people, makes the teeth structure weak with time due to lack of essential minerals. The weaker they become, the more they become prone to fractures.
Teeth fracture and breakages are common dental emergencies with several means of treatments. The sooner you consult with a reliable dentist, the greater the chances of restoring your teeth and smile for a joyful and healthy life.
Symptoms of Teeth Fractures and Breakages
Not every teeth fracture or breakage will result in some signs and symptoms. Therefore, it's important to visit your dentist for a general check-up as often as you can. Underlying teeth infection can lead to slow cracks on the teeth due to the acidic contents secreted by bacteria that are unnoticeable until they become sensitive to different temperatures. If you notice or feel the following signs and symptoms of fractured and broken teeth, you should see a dentist:
- Gum swelling around the damaged tooth/teeth
- A gradual pain that comes and goes after a while
- Sensitivity on the tooth/teeth when you eat or drink something sweet, warm or cold
- You may experience erratic pain when chewing or biting something, especially immediately after releasing a bite
A teeth fracture or breakage should not be assumed even if it doesn’t cause pain at the moment. Even the small cracks on the teeth are usually very sharp and can easily injure your tongue and other oral tissues when chewing or talking. A teeth crack that extends to the tooth’s inner part will be painful and sensitive to warm or cold food, making you uncomfortable and restless. The sooner you contact an emergency dentist, the higher the chances of saving your tooth/teeth.
What to Do When You Experience Signs and Symptoms of Fractured and Broken Teeth
There are a few steps you can take while at home after experiencing symptoms of teeth fracture to increase the chances of a better outcome when you visit your dentist for evaluation and treatment. Here is what you should if you have fractured or broken tooth/teeth:
- Collect the broken piece and put it somewhere in a clean container. A dentist might find a way to re-refix the broken piece of tooth/teeth.
- Use warm, salty water to rinse your mouth.
- Use gauze to put pressure to any bleeding area in your mouth.
- Apply ice packs on your cheek adjacent to the fractured teeth to reduce swelling
- Use saliva or any alkaline solution to cover the broken tooth/teeth.
- In case of severe and uncomfortable pain, you can also consider using over the counter painkillers.
- If you must eat, make sure you stick to soft foods only like mashed potatoes.
- If the tooth fracture has left a sharp edge on your tooth/teeth, you can use sugarless chewing gum to cover its surface to avoid injuring your tongue.
- Seek the services of a dentist immediately as soon as you can
Although teeth breakage is a dental emergency issue, you can do the above things while at home before seeking the services of a specialist for easy treatment once you book an appointment with your preferred emergency dentist. Luckily, with the advancement of technology in the dentistry field, there are several ways a dentist might be able to treat and restore fractured and broken tooth/teeth. Don’t hesitate to contact Ganji Dental if you’ve got a fractured or broken tooth that is causing discomfort and affecting your smile’s aesthetic appearance.
Fractured and Broken Tooth/Teeth Remedy
The treatment method the dentist will adopt in your specific situation will depend on the severity of the tooth/teeth fracture. There are some minor dental cracks that a dentist can treat with just one appointment, and there are others that will require more than one appointment, for instance, if the fracture is extending to the tooth pulp. Because every patient's teeth fracture is different, the dentist will first conduct a diagnosis when you visit his/her clinic before proposing the right remedy for your specific dental issue. Typically, he/she might have to do the following during the diagnosis stage:
- Inquire about your dental and oral history, for instance, if you habitually grind your teeth (bruxism)
- Apply a particular type of dental dye on the cracked tooth to make the crack visible
- Examine the gum area around the fractured or broken teeth to determine if there is any kind of inflammation or swelling
- If your signs and symptoms are not distinct, the dentist might require you to bite a gauze then release it so that you can feel where there is a pain as you release it
- A dentist may have to do visual examination using a magnifying lens to have a visual of the tiny cracks in your teeth which are not visible with bare eyes
- Finally, a dentist will have to take an X-ray of your teeth structure to examine the health of the inner part of your teeth (pulp). An Xray may not indicate the presence of a teeth fracture or crack
After determining the cause of your tooth/teeth fracture, a dentist may choose to adopt any of the following dental treatment methods depending on the severity of your teeth damage:
Usually, damage on the teeth, which involves minor chips on the enamel, will require just one dental appointment with a reliable dentist. Minor chips on the enamel are not painful, but they can injure soft oral tissues like the tongue when they are left unsmoothed. Enamel shaping involves smoothening of the imperfections and sharp edges on your fractured teeth to improve the appearance of your smile. Enamel shaping is more effective when used in conjunction with other dental treatment procedures such as bonding or filling.
Dental Bonding or Filling
After smoothening the contours on your tooth surface through enamel shaping, a dental bonding or filling procedure might be essential to make the broken tooth/teeth whole again and bring back the aesthetic appearance of your smile. Dental bonding is a simple and cost-friendly dental treatment procedure for chipped teeth that can take just one dental appointment.
During dental bonding, the dentist uses a composite resin, which resembles your teeth’ color, to fill up the teeth cracks to restore its function. A dental bonding procedure is less invasive to a patient and does not even require numbing of the gum. Before placement of the composite resin, a dentist will apply phosphorus acid solution on the cracked teeth to etch its surface to adhere to the adhesive material. After shaping the composite resin to resemble your natural teeth’ shape, the dentist will apply some UV light to harden and seal the bonding material to complete the procedure.
Placement of a Dental Crown
Typically, a dental crown is an impression of your tooth, consisting of hard materials such as ceramic, metal, and porcelain fused to metal or gold for longer service. A dental crown restores the functionality and aesthetic appearance of a cracked or fractured tooth.
Fixing a dental crown will require two dentist appointments. During your first appointment, the dentist will prepare the damaged tooth for a dental crown and then make an impression of your cracked tooth to prepare your custom-made dental crown. To prepare the damaged tooth for placement of a dental crown, your dentist will file away the remaining part of the fractured or broken tooth/teeth to create space for the customized dental crown placement.
In the meantime, you will be using a temporary crown before the preparation of your permanent custom-made dental crown. After two or three weeks, when you schedule your second appointment, the dentist will fix and cement the dental crown in place permanently to resemble your natural teeth for a great smile that you deserve. Nowadays, with the advancement of technology in this field, a dentist might be able to fix a dental crown with just one appointment if the right tools are readily available to prepare your permanent dental crown.
Placement of a dental crown is ideal for large cracks of the tooth/teeth enamel. However, if the crack extends below the gum line, your dentist will have to use another treatment option, such as a root canal.
Root Canal Therapy
If the fracture or crack extends deep into the tooth pulp, you will experience disturbing pain because there are numerous nerves in the pulp section, and a root canal is an ideal treatment procedure for such deep cracks. You may have heard dreadful stories about a root canal, but that is not the case nowadays with the availability of modern dentistry equipment, which has made this whole process smooth and less invasive to the patient.
Root canal therapy involves cleaning and removing the dead pulp and nerves in your fractured tooth/teeth to prevent bacteria infection. Your dentist may have to use sedation dentistry, such as nitrogen oxide, also known as laughing gas, as an anti-anxiety during root canal therapy. An injection of anesthesia can also be useful to numb the gum area surrounding the fractured teeth to prevent pain and any kind of discomfort.
After removing the dead pulp, the dentist will fill the gap with a composite resin, which resembles your tooth’s color, to prevent entry germs and bacteria. A dentist will recommend covering the now weakened and vulnerable tooth with a dental crown after a root canal.
If root canal therapy cannot repair your fractured tooth because it is already infected or the roots are weak beyond repair, the only treatment option here will be extraction. Whichever treatment procedure your dentist recommends you to undertake when you have fractured and broken teeth, it’s always to your best interest.
Emergency Tooth Extraction
If there is no other possible treatment method to save your fractured teeth, removing or extracting the remaining peace is always a good idea because you can fill the gap with a dental implant that looks and functions like your natural teeth.
As part of an emergency tooth extraction preparation, your dentist will inquire about your prior dental and medical history, including x-rays and over the counter medications (OTC), to avoid any possible complications. Most dental experts will recommend the injection of antibiotics before an emergency tooth extraction to prevent any chances of bacterial infection during surgery.
Most patients with fractured and broken teeth prefer to be sedated before an emergency tooth extraction using sedation dentistry options such as
- Nitrogen oxide (laughing gas)
- Oral sedative, for example, valium pill.
- Intravenous sedative
If you opt to choose nitrogen oxide as your sedation means, you must find someone you trust to drive you home because it has side effects such as hallucinations. Ther are two types of teeth extraction that sorely depend on the severity of a patient’s tooth damage after a fracture. They include:
If the fractured and broken teeth are well visible in your mouth, the dentist will just conduct a simple extraction that is non-invasive to a patient. During a simple extraction, anti-anxiety sedatives might not be necessary. However, a dentist may use just local anesthesia to numb the gum area around the fractured or broken teeth before extraction. Before extracting the fractured tooth/teeth, your dentist will try to loosen the teeth roots using specialized dental forceps for easy removal/extraction. After extraction, you may want to replace the missing teeth with a dental implant “artificial tooth.”
When the only option of treating your fractured or broken teeth comes to surgical tooth extraction, your tooth must be infected or severely damaged below the gum line, often when the jaw bone is affected. Since surgical tooth extraction is comprehensive and a little bit longer than a simple tooth extraction, your dentist may have to use sedation dentistry alongside some anesthesia to prevent any possible discomfort and anxiety.
With modern dentistry equipment and tools such as dental lasers, surgical tooth extraction has become less dreadful to patients. Although dentistry tools such as scalpels are still in use, dental lasers provide more precise cuts during surgical tooth/teeth extraction. After successful surgical extraction, your dentist will cover the extraction site with some stitches and synthetic/natural bone, which will diffuse with your jaw bone with time.
Things to Avoid After Tooth Extraction and Tips for Quicker Recovery
After tooth extraction, you’ve to take care of the extraction site for quicker recovery. You might experience some bleeding and swelling immediately after extraction, but it’s normal. Your dentist will ask you to take over the counter painkillers such as ibuprofen immediately after extraction and any other time you feel pain. Below aftercare tips to enhance quicker recovery of the extraction site:
- You should not rinse your mouth within the first 24 hours after an emergency tooth extraction
- Whenever you brush and floss your teeth, you should do it gently and avoid brushing the teeth or gums adjacent to the extraction site
- Make sure you stick to soft meals like mashed potatoes or pudding
- After 24 hours, you can rinse and floss your mouth with salty warm water to kill any germs after
- Avoid smoking
- Avoid eating anything that might interfere with the blood clot especially crunchy foods like nuts
Simple tooth extraction can take five to seven days to heal completely, while a surgical extraction where a jaw bone was damaged might take even six months. To restore your dental health and aesthetic appearance of your smile completely, your dentist will recommend you to replace the missing teeth with a dental implant “artificial teeth.” There are numerous ways of saving fractured and broken teeth. All your need to do is find a reliable dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible to explore many options for restoring your fractured and broken teeth.
Find an Emergency Dentist Near Me
If you have a dental emergency involving tooth fracture or breakage, it’s important to act quickly by contacting a dentist to explore possible options of restoring the damaged teeth to avoid any further dental infections. With a reliable dentist like Ganji Dental, you can be certain that we provide comfortable and top-notch services geared to transform your dental health for a brighter smile and healthy life. Call us at 310-643-8045 to talk to our friendly and experienced dentists about your fractured or broken teeth. We serve Hawthorne, California, and other surrounding areas.