Broken Tooth Q & A

What causes teeth to break?

Teeth can break as a result of biting down on something hard if you use your teeth as tools to pry off a lid or perform some other task, as the result of a sports injury or fall, as the result of a car accident or from other trauma. When a tooth has a large filling, decay or other issue, it's more likely to become broken.

How are broken teeth fixed?

That depends on the size of the piece that's broken off, as well as other factors. For relatively minor breaks, a filling or onlay may suffice. Breaks that affect only the enamel may be able to be treated with dental bonding, using a special material to fill in the damaged area. Larger breaks typically require crowns to cover the remaining tooth and help provide strength and stability to prevent it from decaying and falling out. When a tooth breaks off at or below the gum line, it may need to be extracted and replaced with an implant, bridge or partial denture. Tooth fractures that expose the interior pulp of the tooth may require a root canal as part of the procedure to restore the tooth.

What should I do if I break a tooth?

A broken tooth is a dental emergency, and you should contact the office right away for further instructions. Until you can be seen, you can manage pain with over-the-counter pain medications and rinse your mouth with salt water to reduce swelling. Cover any jagged edges with dental wax or sugar-free gum, and avoid eating anything but the softest foods. Also, avoid chewing on the side with the broken tooth.

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