Whether you bit down the wrong way on a carrot or tripped on a crack, breaking a tooth is painful, upsetting, and cosmetically disastrous. You might go from a radiant smile to a silly one, and many people become self-conscious and stop showing their teeth at all when one gets broken. A broken tooth can also cut the inside of your mouth or make it difficult to eat. Cavities that weaken a tooth can cause breaks, too, so you may suddenly have a broken tooth with no idea how you got it.
Many people experience tooth pain and sensitivity for a variety of reasons from oral diseases to exposed roots. One cause of tooth pain is a broken or cracked tooth. Exposed nerves can make it painful to eat sweet, hot, or cold foods, and the moment when the tooth breaks can hurt if it breaks off far enough down the tooth. If you have had a tooth chip or break, here’s what you should do.
Figure out if it’s cracked, chipped, or broken.
If you know there is a problem with your tooth but you aren’t sure what it is, you can use the situations in which you feel pain as a clue to what type of break it is. For example, if you find that it doesn’t hurt to bite on the tooth but it hurts to release the bite, you probably have a cracked tooth. Cracked teeth can’t be treated at home any more than the other types of breaks, but your tooth may not appear visibly broken.
Treat breaks immediately and see the dentist.
If you break a tooth, take immediate action to before seeing the dentist as soon as you can. First, you should rinse your mouth with warm salt water. If your mouth is bleeding, use gauze for ten minutes to stop the bleeding. Tea bags can also help stop the bleeding if gauze doesn’t work. Some people experience swelling, particularly if there was a sharp blow to the face; an ice pack can help relieve any swelling of the cheek or lips. If you know you will be delayed before seeing a dentist, cover the tooth with sugarless gum or temporary dental cement from a drug store and use painkillers to treat any pain.
Types of tooth breaks your dentist will diagnose.
Once you see your dentist, you’ll know what type of tooth break it is. Minor cracks only affect the outer enamel, and with a bit of light polishing, your dentist can fix it up. More severe breaks may require specialists like to treat, however. Cracked teeth need filling, serious breaks require crowns, and breaks that affect the nerves may need a root canal.
The treatment your dentist chooses for your broken tooth depends on the type of break it is, your other teeth, your general oral health, and your budget. From minor cracks to serious breaks or split teeth, your dentist needs to treat you as soon as possible to avoid any complications. It’s upsetting to have a tooth chip or break all of a sudden, but it is worse to avoid treatment.
Marissa Mayer ran her dental practice for many years. Now retired, she enjoys tending to her horses and blogging online.