Ask the Dentist!

I broke a tooth! What do I do?

If you’ve had the misfortune of breaking a tooth, you know it never happens at convenient time or place to have it fixed. It seems weekends and vacations are the most popular.

If this happens to you, what do you do? In this article, I will offer some suggestions to help you through until you can get in to see your dentist.

Broken tooth with no pain

This is the most common condition I encounter. Most often there was an underlying reason the tooth broke. I always tell my patients teeth have memories and they remember all the things that were done to them over the years. Large cavities lead to large fillings which will weaken the tooth. Years of abuse from clenching, grinding, ice chewing or using them as tools will eventually lead to a tooth breaking. When your dentist recommends a crown for a tooth that is not broken or does not hurt, it’s for a reason. The chances are really good that doing nothing will eventually lead to it breaking, but we never know when or where that will happen. If you have a tooth break and it doesn’t hurt, continue to floss and brush as normal, avoid chewing directly over that area and call your dentist. Although very troubling, this is not considered an emergency and chances are you will be able to see your dentist to have it fixed before it has the chance to start hurting.

Broken tooth with pain

When a tooth breaks and there is pain, it’s usually from a couple of reasons.

  1. The first is that that the break has extended under the gum tissue and when pressure is applied it hurts. This is much like when baby teeth are loose and only being held in by the gum tissue. In most cases, the tooth can be restored with a filling or a crown after the broken piece is removed.
  2. The other cause tends to be much more involved. A tooth fracture can involve the nerve of the tooth, which is located in the center of the tooth. In this case, depending on how severe the fracture, the tooth may need a root canal and a crown. In the most severe cases, the fracture can extend onto the root of the tooth in which case the tooth may need to be extracted.

In both of these cases, the broken part of the tooth will be loose but will not come out on its own. These situations tend to be more involved. Although it may not immediately hurt, there is a greater likelihood it will. See your dentist as soon as possible.

Unexpected things happen which is why our office has daily emergency appointments available. If you have an emergency or are looking for a new dental home, give us a call at (225) 926-4203. 

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