Tooth enamel is very resistant and cannot be broken easily. Broken teeth usually happen in accidents: when biting something hard or being hit in the face, such as during bike fall. There are subtle cracks on any tooth, but these are not an imminent threat: all you have to do is keep your mouth clean to protect your teeth from acid erosion. When enamel cracks are but superficial, pain can easily be managed with a common over the counter drug, and your dentist can fix the tooth in no time. In cases of severe trauma however, you ought to go a maxillofacial surgeon who takes in emergencies. When the fracture goes deeper into the profound layers of the tooth (dentin) the structure of the tooth can be compromised. Sometimes the trauma can affect the root of the tooth as well: in these cases, pain is rather significant.
The sooner the intervention, the greater the chances to save an injured tooth!
Tips for Emergencies
- Rinse with tepid water.
- Try to stop the bleeding.
- Do not attempt to clean the tooth!
- A tooth knocked-out completely from its socket can be kept in cold milk or saline solution to keep the periodontal ligaments safe until you reach the dental office. In the first 15 minutes or so, re-implantation is likely to be a success.
Sometimes there is no need to run to the dentist’s, as the injury is but superficial. In this case, what you should do is treat the chipped tooth with a bit more care until you get to the dental office: choose your food carefully and try to eat on the other side as any additional fracture could complicate your situation and should be avoided.
Treatment is different for adults and children
Your dentist will evaluate your condition and decide the best treatment for you according to the severity of the fracture. An adult patient usually gets root canal. Should the tooth fracture be superficial, the dentist’s choice is to perform a simple dental filling for a child patient. Sometimes, the dentist chooses a dental crown against fillings: for example when the chipped tooth is a molar that has to take a lot more pressure than front teeth. When the tooth doesn’t stand a chance and is obviously compromised, the dentist doesn’t choose a crown either and goes for a different prosthetics option to replace the entire tooth.
Your risk factors for tooth injury are connected to your eating habits (you eat nuts and hard candy, etc.) and taking other activities that may endanger your teeth (sports, work etc.).
Secondly, your dental history can give a bad prospect. A tooth with previous multiple fillings is at a greater risk for root vertical fracture, root infection and other conditions.