Fractured and broken teeth are a common issue that affects people of all ages. One or more of your teeth can break or fracture for several reasons, including trauma, tooth grinding, breaking, or chewing complex substances like ice. Some tooth fractures are minor, while others are serious. The latter requires immediate and sometimes extensive treatment. Some people do not experience any signs of broken or fractured teeth. But it is advisable to have your tooth restored to avoid complications in the future.
Seeking the help of an emergency dentist immediately after your tooth breaks or fractures is advisable. The dentist will save your natural tooth and help you avoid severe symptoms like pain and sensitivity. They could also prevent major infections that impact oral health and general well-being.
Our emergency dentists at Washington Dental have extensive skills and experience handling broken and fractured teeth. You can count on our care and support if you seek a remedy for your broken or fractured tooth in Carson. We will examine your damaged teeth and the rest of your teeth to develop a treatment plan that suits your unique needs.
What is a Broken or Fractured Tooth?
Your tooth breaks or fractures when it develops a crack in its enamel. Dentists say that you have cracked or fractured tooth syndrome. Minor damage to your tooth can be harmless, but a serious one can cause the tooth to split or break eventually. When that happens, it could be difficult to salvage your natural tooth. While tooth fractures are common in minors, older people’s teeth also break due to various reasons associated with applying excess force to the tooth. If you suspect that your tooth is cracked or fractured, it is advisable to seek the help of an emergency dentist right away.
Your natural tooth has two main parts:
- The crown, which is the visible part of your tooth above the gums,
- The root that lies below the gums.
A tooth’s crown and its root comprise several layers, including the following:
- The enamel, which is the hard outer part of the tooth,
- The dentin, which is the middle layer of your tooth,
- The pulp, which is the soft tissue at the tooth’s roots containing the nerves and blood vessels.
A fracture in your tooth can affect one or more of these layers. That is why you need a dental exam once your tooth breaks or fractures for the dentist to determine the extent and seriousness of the fracture. That will help them devise a treatment plan for you.
While some tooth fractures do not present symptoms, others are accompanied by pain and sensitivity. Even without symptoms, seeing an emergency dentist immediately after tooth fractures is advisable. Seeking help right away can increase your chances of saving your natural tooth. It will also save you a considerable amount of money.
Some tooth fractures are preventable. You can protect your teeth from cracks and breakages with some of the best dental practices, including the following:
- Avoiding chewing complex substances like ice and foods.
- Practicing good care for your gums and teeth.
- Use a mouthguard every time you play sports or if you are in the habit of grinding your teeth.
- Visiting your dentist regularly for routine checkups.
Note: You cannot heal a broken or fractured tooth. But the proper treatment can save the tooth and keep it functional for years. Repairing your fractured tooth right after it breaks can reduce your chances of more severe damage and infection.
Causes of Fractured or Broken Teeth
It is essential to understand the cause of your broken or fractured tooth as you seek treatment. Here are the common causes of fractures:
Your teeth are likely to break or fracture as you age. Most adults experience tooth fractures at the age of 50 and older. The hard part of your tooth (the enamel) becomes weaker as you age. That makes it more susceptible to fractures.
What You Bite or Eat
Your eating habits determine how strong or otherwise your teeth are. If you are in the habit of biting or chewing on complex substances like ice, candy, and popcorn kernels, your teeth are at greater risk of breaking.
Bad habits like teeth grinding and chewing could also be why your teeth are weak and likely to fracture or break. Teeth grinding will not harm your teeth immediately, but it will create weaknesses in them, eventually breaking them.
Trauma to your teeth could occur after a fall or when something hard hits your face with a significant impact, as in sports injuries. Some people experience tooth fractures after a car accident, a bike accident, or due to physical violence.
Some dental restorations, like root canals and dental fillings, can weaken your tooth, increasing its chances of breaking. If your tooth has a large cavity, a skilled dentist will recommend a better treatment than a dental filling. It is because a large filling will leave the natural tooth weak, which could eventually break it.
Note: Some teeth are more prone to fractures than others. For example, the front teeth on the upper jaw and the mandibular molars (at the back of your mouth on the lower jaw) will likely break more than the rest. People typically break one tooth at a time, but severe injuries and trauma can simultaneously damage more than one tooth.
People suffering from cavities are more likely to experience dental fractures, even after minor trauma.
The cause of your tooth fracture notwithstanding, a skilled emergency dentist will determine the best treatment option to salvage the natural tooth and protect you from unpleasant symptoms.
Symptoms of Broken or Fractured Tooth Syndrome
Remember that some broken or fractured teeth do not present any symptoms. That does not mean the fracture is less severe and does not require treatment. You must seek immediate treatment once you notice a crack in your tooth. In most cases, the break or fracture will be accompanied by severe symptoms, including the following:
- Pain when chewing. The pain could be mild or severe. It could worsen when you apply pressure to the tooth. A severely fractured tooth will be more painful.
- A fractured tooth can be highly sensitive when consuming hot and cold foods and beverages.
- There could be some swelling around the broken tooth.
- The adjacent teeth could be painful, especially when chewing or biting.
Diagnosing Broken and Fractured Teeth
If you experience pain or sensitivity and suspect that your tooth is broken or fractured, an emergency dentist will first give a diagnosis before devising a treatment plan. Sometimes you do not realize your tooth is cracked or fractured until your dentist diagnoses it during a routine dental checkup.
To correctly diagnose you, your dentist will first ask direct questions regarding the broken tooth and when you started experiencing the symptoms. For example, they could ask when you experienced the injury or trauma to the tooth. Your dentist will also inquire about your dental treatment history and habits, like teeth grinding, that could have contributed to the fracture. After obtaining information from you, your dentist will conduct a dental examination. They will:
- Examine your teeth, paying more attention to the broken tooth to determine whether it is fractured or avulsed (knocked out).
- The dentist could request that you bite on something to determine whether you experience pain. They could also ask about the kind of pain you experience, whether mild or excruciating.
- They will inspect all your teeth to check for crack lines. Remember that if you were in an accident or suffered trauma, you could have injured more than one tooth.
- The dentist will examine your mouth and gums for signs of inflammation and infection because vertical fractures on your teeth can irritate your gums.
- They will use a light to illuminate the fracture to determine its extent.
- The dentist will also stain the tooth to obtain a better view of the fracture.
- An X-ray exam could be necessary to view the fracture better and determine whether there are other issues with the tooth and its structures, like bone loss. Imaging can include conducting a 3D scan, also known as a cone beam scan, to determine bone loss, which is common with tooth fractures.
- Dentists can use specialized tools to find the fracture, using techniques like dental probing to check whether anything can be caught in the crack.
A broken or fractured tooth can result in an infection or tooth abscess. That is why you need to take immediate action as soon as you realize a crack on your tooth, however minor. Here are other symptoms that should prompt a quick visit to your dentist:
- If you notice bad oral breath or halitosis,
- If you have persistent pain in one or more teeth,
- If you experience a fever,
- If your gums are swollen.
- If you have swollen lymph nodes,
- If you experience tooth sensitivity after a temperature change.
Types of Tooth Fractures
The treatment you will receive for your fractured or broken tooth will depend on the fracture or break. Here are the most common types of fractures:
These are minor cracks that could appear on your tooth’s enamel. The cracks are only shallow and rarely require treatment. But your dentist can lightly polish the tooth’s enamel to smooth the rough spots caused by the cracks.
Minor chips in your tooth do not also require treatment. But your dentist can recommend repairing the damage using a dental filling substance to prevent the chips from worsening. The filling will also make your tooth feel and appear better. Polishing could smooth the chipped part if the chip is only minor.
Note: Most dental injuries and accidents result in chipped teeth.
A crack is a fracture that extends from the tooth’s upper surface to its root. If your tooth has a deep crack in its root, your dentist can recommend extraction. If the damage is only on its upper surface, your dentist can recommend other treatment methods, like installing a dental crown or root canal treatment. Remember that treatment must be initiated immediately to salvage the tooth and prevent the crack from worsening.
A vertical split can occur on your tooth, separating it into two. It usually starts as a crack that grows until it splits your tooth. Split teeth necessitate extraction, though there are situations when a root canal treatment can salvage the tooth.
It occurs when a piece of your tooth breaks off when biting or chewing. It happens mostly on teeth that have had a dental filling. A broken cusp generally does not affect your tooth’s root and is not painful. Your dentist can recommend a new filling to reinstate, strengthen, and restore your tooth’s functionality. Sometimes a crown can work better.
A severe break in your tooth can extend deep into the tooth’s pulp, exposing its nerves. You will likely experience excruciating pain, and the broken part can bleed. But the treatment your dentist will recommend depends on the depth of the breakage. For example, your dentist can recommend the extraction of a severely broken tooth. If they can save your tooth, your dentist can recommend root canal therapy to remove exposed and infected nerves and a dental crown to restore the look and functionality of the tooth.
Vertical Root Fractures
These are tooth cracks that start from your tooth’s roots and extend upwards to the chewing surface. Most people do not notice these fractures until the surrounding tissues become sore, inflamed, and infected, making them extremely painful. Mostly, the best treatment for a vertical root structure is extraction.
These fractures result from the weakening of a tooth caused by a cavity. Cavities cause the tooth to weaken from the inside. Your dentist will evaluate the cavity first to recommend the ideal way to salvage the tooth. Extraction could be your best treatment option if the decay extends to the jawbone.
How Dentists Treat Broken and Fractured Teeth
Experienced emergency dentists have many treatment options for fractured and broken teeth. The treatment option your dentist will recommend will depend on the extent of damage your tooth has experienced. Common treatments include the following:
Also called composite or dental bonding, tooth bonding is a restorative procedure aimed at improving your smile and the functionality of your teeth. It entails applying a resin material to the fractured tooth to improve its shape and size. The material must resemble the color of your teeth to restore their appearance and enable you to smile confidently.
Bonding is a cosmetic improvement that can conceal cracks and chips on your tooth. The procedure can also camouflage tooth discoloration and make your impacted tooth appear longer. It can also change the shape of your affected tooth.
Before the procedure, your dentist will examine your teeth to establish your suitability for dental bonding. They will also conduct X-ray examinations to look for other serious issues like gum disease and tooth decay, for which you will need treatment first.
The treatment process starts with selecting a shade that matches the color of your natural teeth. Your dentist will then prepare your tooth by roughening it and applying a conditioning liquid. They will then apply the composite resin substance, mold it, and smooth it to the desired shape. Finally, the dentist will cure the substance using a curing light to bond it to the tooth’s surface.
A fracture or breakage in your tooth can affect its size and shape, making it a suitable candidate for cosmetic contouring. Cosmetic contouring entails removing some of your tooth’s enamel to change the shape of the affected tooth. Its main goal is to give your tooth the ideal length, shape, and appearance and improve its look.
Your dentist will use a laser or drill to remove some enamel from the tooth. They must conduct this procedure carefully to avoid exposing the tooth to possible damage. The main advantage of cosmetic contouring is that it is fast, painless, and does not take long to heal. You can enjoy a better-looking tooth on your first visit to your dentist’s office.
Thus, if your chipped, cracked, or damaged tooth has affected your smile and confidence, your dentist can recommend cosmetic contouring to alter its appearance and improve your look and feel.
A crown is a tooth-like cap that dentists use to restore a severely damaged tooth. The cap covers an imperfect tooth to restore its appearance, feel, and functionality. Crowns are made from various materials, including porcelain, metal, and resin. They can last for fifteen years or more if properly cared for.
Once your dentist makes a crown for your fractured or broken tooth in the dental lab, they will fit it over the tooth like a snag hat. The dentist can remove some enamel from our teeth before bonding the crown.
Dental crowns have several advantages, including supporting and protecting a cracked tooth, restoring a broken tooth, and strengthening a weak tooth.
On your first visit to the dentist, they will examine and prepare your tooth for the crown. Preparation could entail removing some enamel from the tooth to give it an ideal shape. Your dentist will then take an impression of your tooth. These impressions will be sent to the lab, where your crown will be created. You will require a second visit to the dentist’s office to have your crown fitted. It could take up to three weeks for your dentist to create a perfect crown for your damaged tooth.
Severely broken or fractured teeth cannot be salvaged. In that case, your dentist can recommend extraction. Tooth extraction entails the complete removal of the damaged tooth from its socket. But before extraction, your dentist will assess the affected tooth and the gums around it. They could conduct an X-ray exam to establish the extent of the damage and the condition of your bone. Your dentist will also discover your medical history and any medications you could take.
Once they have the required information, your dentist will discuss your sedation options and start treatment. They could start with local anesthesia to numb the affected tooth and surrounding tissues. They will then use special dental tools to loosen the tooth and carefully remove it from its socket. In complicated cases, your dentist must make an incision in the gums to access the tooth.
Once the tooth is out, the dentist will clean and disinfect the socket. They could also place a bone graft to prevent bone loss in the jaw. Finally, they will stitch the area to promote quick healing.
Root Canal Treatment
A root canal could be the ideal treatment option if the damage to your tooth extends to its inner structures or pulp. In that case, the tooth could develop an infection at its roots, which can spread to other teeth and other parts of the body. Treatment entails removing the infected pulp, treating it, and sealing the entire area to prevent further infection and protect the tooth.
Dentists sometimes do not recommend any treatment for fractured or broken teeth. That can occur if the breakage or fracture does not:
- Cause pain or sensitivity.
- Affect your tooth's functionality.
- Impact your appearance.
- Extend to the root of the tooth.
Find a Skilled Emergency Dentist Near Me
A broken or damaged tooth is a severe issue that should be handled with the seriousness it deserves. Thus, you should visit your dentist immediately after an injury damages your tooth. Even though some minor tooth fractures remain untreated, major fractures can worsen if left untreated, resulting in severe issues like infection. It helps to know when to see a dentist with a broken or fractured tooth in Carson. It also helps to understand your treatment options.
That is why we recommend our team at Washington Dental. Our emergency dentists are always ready to examine your teeth and consider your treatment history when devising a quick treatment plan for your damaged tooth. Call us at 310-217-1507 to learn more about our services.