Broken Teeth a guide

Why do we get broken teeth ?

Your teeth are made up of some of the hardest substances your body can produce. Unfortunately, this doesn't prevent them being chipped, fractured or broken due to injury or trauma. The most common reason for a broken tooth is because of sudden injury to the mouth. For example biting down on a hard object or receiving a blow to the face and many children break their teeth during sports or falling off their bikes.

What are the symptoms of broken teeth?

If you've received an injury, which has caused a large break in your tooth, you may experience severe pain and discomfort. In cases like this, the nerve of the tooth has been exposed or damaged and this may also cause sensitivity.

Less severe fractures, which don't interfere with the nerve of the tooth, often won’t cause symptoms and you may not spot the damage right away. In the case of a deeper fracture, the damage can often affect the nerve, producing constant or sporadic pain. Many patients with a deeper fracture experience pain as they chew, due to the pressure applied to the tooth. The motion of chewing causes cracks to widen and close quickly as the pressure is applied and taken off the tooth. In the most severe cases, large sections of your tooth may break away.

Treatment for Broken Teeth

If you think you've broken or fractured one of your teeth then you'll need to visit your dentist as soon as you can, especially if you're experiencing constant pain. Constant pain can often be a warning sign that the fracture has compromised the nerve of the tooth and may even be affecting the tissues inside your tooth. Adults who have a damaged nerve usually have to undergo a root canal treatment, in children however, the nerve may be saved if treatment is prompt. If you're experiencing swelling then using a cold compress should help alleviate some pain and bring it down. Similarly, if you're bleeding in your mouth, use a piece of gauze to apply pressure on the area for about 10 minutes.

There's a number of different types of break, and what treatment is used will largely depend on what type of break you have. For the most minor cracks or 'craze lines' which affect only the outer part of your tooth, treatment is rarely required. In some cases however, your dentist may polish the affected tooth to smooth the area. Chipped teeth don't usually affect the pulp of your tooth but may interfere with eating or your appearance. Your dentist may use a tooth-coloured filling or just sand the area to smooth it out. Similarly, cusp fractures which affect the pointed chewing surfaces of your teeth may also interfere with your eating so they may need filing or to have a crown fitted. In the cases of a deep fracture, the nerve is often affected and the tooth may bleed. A root canal treatment is usually needed to extract the affected nerve before a crown is used to restore the tooth.