A broken tooth can be a scary, painful dental emergency. At Casa Dental, we want our Escondido patients to be prepared for what to do if they ever break a tooth, whether it’s a molar (back tooth) or one in the front of their mouth.
What to do if You Break Your Teeth
Knowing “first aid” for broken teeth will make all the difference when it comes to saving your smile. The more quickly you act, the better chances you have of preserving your tooth.
First, try to locate any broken tooth fragments. Pick them up and store them in a sealed container or zip-top bag so that you don’t lose them, but make sure they’re completely covered with milk, contact solution, or tap water with a pinch of salt added to it. The key is to prevent the tooth from drying out.
If you knock out a tooth entirely, do not touch the tooth root. If there is visible debris, you can gently rinse it under running water (taking care not to scrub the root) and then place it back into the socket. Otherwise, store it the same way as the broken fragment as described above.
Next, call our Escondido dentist immediately. Ideally, we need to see our patients with broken teeth within the first hour or two. Even if you’re calling outside of office hours, we can return your call to let you know what to do until we can see you for an appointment.
Broken Teeth Treatment Options
Depending on the severity of your fracture, there are several appropriate treatments our dentists may recommend:
Do Nothing—If the break in your tooth is extremely small and the chip is hardly noticeable, you might not need to do anything. Our Escondido dentist might smooth it out if there are any rough spots irritating your lips and tongue. However, we’ll probably still want to take an X-ray to make sure there wasn’t significant trauma to the root, causing deeper fractures.
Dental Bonding—Small to medium-sized areas of broken tooth enamel is usually repaired with composite bonding if it’s closer to the front of the mouth. Bonding is similar to white dental fillings and is shaped over the fracture to help the tooth look whole again. They are relatively easy to place. However, bonding may not hold up long-term if you’re biting on that tooth frequently, so it isn’t always recommended on molars.
Place a Protective Crown—For moderate to severely broken teeth, a full-coverage dental crown is a must. Otherwise, the tooth structure that’s left will only continue to break down as you bite and chew with that tooth. A crown will help protect what’s left underneath and distribute biting pressure so that you can eat normally without having to change your diet.
Root Canal Treatment (and Crown)—Deep fractures that extend into the nerve of the tooth will require root canal treatment to prevent pain, infection, or severe abscessing. After every root canal, a dental crown will also be required. Endodontic treatment is often the “last line of defense” when it comes down to avoiding tooth loss from oral injuries and infection.
Extract/Pull the Tooth—Whenever a tooth is so severely broken that there’s little structure left to repair, or performing a root canal is not an option, an emergency dental extraction can provide fast relief. We typically reserve extractions as one of the last steps when other therapies are not available. If you do have a tooth pulled, our Escondido dentists will want to discuss options for replacing it in a timely manner (before other teeth start to shift out of alignment.) A dental implant or bridge may be one of the most appropriate options.
For broken teeth, dental emergency care is needed the same day. Our Escondido dentist is here to provide you with fast pain relief, whether you’ve been coming to us for years or are a completely brand new patient.
To discuss your broken teeth treatment options, call Casa Dental today.