Dental Emergencies: What To Do If You Break A Tooth

Dental Emergencies: What To Do If You Break A Tooth

Teeth breakages can range from the tiniest chip to a catastrophic disintegration of an entire tooth. Regardless of the severity of the break, it is vital you see a dentist as soon as possible.

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Why Do Teeth Break?

Teeth can break for a variety of reasons. Some of these include:

Active Decay

The decay undermines the enamel which then chips off.

Solution: decay needs to be removed and the cavity filled. If the decay has damaged a large amount of the tooth, a crown might be needed to protect the remaining tooth structure.

Past Decay

The cavity is decay free and has been successfully filled, but the remaining tooth has been weakened and can’t cope with the ongoing stresses of chewing.

Solution: often a larger filling or a crown needs to be placed to prevent further damage.

A Knock To The Teeth (Sports)

Solution: the dentist will repair the broken tooth, either using filling material (like a tooth-coloured composite resin) or porcelain (a veneer or crown). The best solution is the proactive wearing of sports mouthguards during games and training. You can read more about this on the blog here.

This can be episodic or may be occurring all the time. People clench and grind their teeth for different reasons, although it is commonly associated with stress.

Solution: Sometimes stress management can help. If the clenching and grinding (bruxing) continues, then an occlusal splint is recommended to protect teeth and fillings from further damage.

Using Teeth As Tools

Solution: Don’t!!

Crunching Ice and Other Hard Foods

Some people find it very satisfying to crunch hard foods like ice, boiled sweets, pork crackling and the like. Unfortunately, if a weakness exists in a tooth (a small cavity or a pre-existing hairline crack), the enamel can chip off as a result. Even a completely healthy, unfilled tooth can be damaged by crunching hard foods.

Solution: Try to avoid if possible.

Do Broken Teeth Hurt?

Depending on the severity of the break in the tooth, the symptoms will vary. You may experience nothing at all, or experience discomfort ranging from periodic pain when chewing or from very cold food to constant pain of varying degrees, and may even experience swelling.

A broken tooth might also cause laceration of the nearby soft tissues of the mouth- the lips, cheeks and tongue may be cut, grazed or irritated by the roughened or sharp edges of a chipped tooth.

What Should I Do If I Have Broken A Tooth?

  1. Call your dentist and request an appointment
  2. Paracetamol or Ibuprofen should help with temporary pain relief if required. Please read our page on ‘Using Pain Relieving Medications For Dental And Facial Pain‘ for more information
  3. Keep the area clean- brush and floss well, even if this is a little uncomfortable.
  4. Avoid chewing with this tooth if possible.

How Will My Broken Tooth Be Fixed?

There are several ways broken teeth can be fixed. Some of these have been mentioned above and you can read more detail about them here. It is important to understand that a broken tooth may always be weaker or more fragile than before: however, in most instances, the tooth will function normally for years after the treatment.

Untreated broken teeth can lead to the death of the nerve and the formation of an abscess. In very extreme cases, the tooth may split in two and it cannot be saved if this occurs.

Corinna Dental Group And Broken Teeth

Corinna Dental Group will always give priority appointments to patients in pain. Please go to our page on Emergency Appointments to learn more.

You can read more about broken teeth and what to do if it is an emergency in other articles on the blog here:

Clenching and Grinding

Using Teeth As Tools

Sports Mouthguards

Emergency page