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Broken tooth

The teeth are quite strong but can still crack, break or chip. You can break your teeth from falling, getting hit in the mouth or face, biting down on something hard, having weakened a tooth from cavities, or large old amalgam filling that can’t support the remaining enamel.

A broken or chipped tooth may not hurt, but your tongue will quickly feel the sharp area. While minor tooth fractures do not usually cause pain, you may feel pain if a large piece of a tooth breaks off. This may be due to a damaged nerve, and extreme discomfort can also occur when the nerve endings in the dentine are exposed to cold or hot drinks and food.

Pain from a cracked or broken tooth may be constant or recurring. Many people only feel pain when chewing because chewing puts more pressure on the tooth.

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What can I do?

  • Fractured or cracked teeth

No at-home treatment is available for cracked or fractured teeth, so you need to visit the dentist. Sometimes, the tooth will look fine and hurt only from temperature changes in the mouth or when eating.

If the tooth constantly hurts, it may result from a damaged blood vessel or nerve, which is a serious sign. You can tell you have a cracked tooth if you don’t feel pain when you bite on the tooth, but the pain occurs when you release the bite.

  • Broken teeth

If your tooth is broken, ensure you visit your dentist immediately. Your dentist can determine if the break was due to a cavity and whether or not the nerve is damaged. A damaged nerve will need root canal treatment.

Some tips before you arrive at your dentist’s office

  • Rinse your mouth properly with warm water
  • Apply pressure using a piece of gauze on any bleeding area until the bleeding stops in about 20 minutes. If this doesn’t stop the bleeding, place a tea bag on the area to stop the bleeding
  • Place a cold pack on the lips or cheek over the broken tooth to help relieve pain and reduce swelling
  • If you cannot go to the dentist immediately, cover the part of your tooth in your mouth using temporary dental cement. This is available at the pharmacy
  • Take over-the-counter pain medication
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What will the dentist do?

There are different types of tooth fractures and breaks, and each requires different treatments. They include:

  • Minor cracks

Minor cracks, also called craze lines, affect only the outer white tooth surface (enamel). Minor cracks do not usually need treatment, but your dentist may polish the area lightly to smooth the rough spots.

  • Cracked tooth

This fracture affects the entire tooth, from the chewing surface to the nerve. The pieces of the tooth often remain in place, but the crack gradually spreads. The treatment may require filling material, but most people get a crown to prevent the crack from worsening. A root canal will also be necessary if the pulp (nerves and other live tissues) is damaged.

  • Chips

Minor chips do not usually need treatment, and the dentist may recommend repairing the damage with filling material to prevent it from worsening and make the tooth look better. If the chip is small, polishing and smoothing the chipped area is necessary.

  • Broken cusp

A broken cusp affects the tooth’s pointed chewing surface (or cusps). The damage doesn’t usually affect the pulp and rarely causes much pain. Repairing the damage is usually for restoring the tooth’s shape, but fitting a crown may be necessary.

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  • Serious breaks

These are breaks that run deep, exposing the nerve. They often cause the affected tooth to hurt and become sensitive. Usually, the broken area of the tooth will bleed. You will require a root canal to remove the exposed nerve and a crown to restore your tooth’s normal function, so you can chew and eat properly.

  • Split tooth

This means the tooth is divided vertically into two parts. Some teeth, like the back teeth (molars), have multiple roots. Keeping one of the roots may be possible, and the dentist will fit a crown. First, a root canal is necessary, and then the dentist will remove the roots that can’t remain in the tooth, then replace the tooth and cover its root with a crown. Sometimes, when saving a root isn’t possible, you will have the tooth removed.

  • Split root or vertical breaks

The cracks often start in the tooth’s root and move towards the chewing surface. The break is usually painful because the area around the tooth may be infected or inflamed. In most cases, tooth removal is necessary.

  • Decay-induced break

The tooth crumbles or breaks due to a cavity weakening the tooth from the inside. The dentist will check the cavity and suggest the most suitable restoration method. If the tooth decay is extensive and extends to the bone, the dentist will have to remove the tooth.

If you have a broken tooth in London, visit McKennell Dental Practice at 21 Churton Street London SW1V 2LY for treatment. You can also contact us at 020 7834 8802 for an appointment with the dentist.

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