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How To Care For A Broken Tooth

A broken tooth should always be evaluated by your dentist to determine what type of treatment, if any, is needed. Broken teeth can be caused by any traumatic event involving the mouth or jaw, including being hit in the face, falling and smacking the jaw, or something as simple as biting down too hard on a piece of food. Tooth decay sometimes contributes to a broken tooth, but a perfectly healthy tooth can break if enough force is used.

MouthNot every broken tooth will hurt; if it's a minor fracture or break, the enamel may be the only part damaged. If the tooth is damaged down to the nerve, you'll feel intermittent or constant pain that can be difficult to handle, particularly when trying to chew. If there is damage to the soft tissues or nerve inside the tooth, it will be more difficult to save the tooth, and a root canal may be required. The most important thing to remember is that quick action must be taken if you want to save the tooth.

What To Do For A Broken Tooth

If you break a tooth, follow these crucial steps in order to give your dentist the greatest chance of saving the tooth:

1. Save the pieces of the broken tooth if possible.
2. Rinse your mouth with warm water, and then rinse the pieces of tooth.
3. If there is any bleeding, apply some pressure with gauze for up to ten minutes.
4. If you're in pain or there is any swelling, use a cold compress on the mouth or cheek area over the broken tooth.
5. If you can't see your dentist right away, use a dental cement, such as Dentemp (available at most drug stores), to the break.

Treatment Options For A Broken Tooth

Your dentist will have to evaluate the broken tooth to determine what treatment is appropriate. If it is at all possible, he or she will try to save the tooth, but in some cases the damage is so severe that it can't be saved.

Small cracks or craze lines along the surface of a broken tooth can usually be polished out because they don't penetrate the enamel. Small chips may also be polished or filed down if they don't affect the dentin or nerve. This keeps them from getting worse and improves the appearance of the tooth.

More serious breaks include cusp fractures, which are breaks in the chewing surface of a tooth. These may be patched with a filling such as porcelain or gold, or may require a crown if severe. Fractures of the tooth that expose the nerve will usually mean the dentist has to do a root canal and install a crown to protect the remainder of the tooth.

A cracked tooth with damage that runs the length of the tooth will usually need to be crowned in order to prevent further damage, while a tooth that is split from top to bottom will often require a root canal with removal of the nerve and a crown.

If you fracture or break a tooth below the gum line, periodontal surgery will be needed to remove some bone around the damaged tooth so that a crown can be properly fitted.

Only your dentist can determine which treatment is best for your broken tooth. If you chip, fracture, or break a tooth, the most important step you can take is to immediately contact your dentist and make an emergency appointment. The more quickly you get to the dentist, the more likely it is that your broken tooth can be saved.

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