You’re crunching ice or a piece of hard candy when you notice something hard in your mouth that doesn’t melt or dissolve. You get a sick feeling as you realise what it is — a piece of a broken tooth. The enamel on your teeth is some of the toughest tissue in your body, but it’s still vulnerable to chipping and even breaking. Falls, blows to the face, using your teeth to tear open plastic or other packages, or even biting down on hard foods can all cause a broken tooth.
You should see a dentist as soon as possible if you have a chipped tooth or even a broken tooth, especially if it causes any discomfort. There are various ways to repair a broken tooth, from caps to veneers to crowns.
Your dentist will be able to figure out the best way to treat your broken tooth and repair the chipped teeth and restore your smile to its original glory. If you discover you have broken or chipped a tooth, don’t panic. There are many things your emergency dentist can do to fix it.
How to Care for a Chipped or Broken Tooth
See your after-hours dentist right away if your tooth is fractured, chipped, or broken. Otherwise, there’s a chance that your tooth will suffer harm or develop an infection, which could lead to tooth loss.
Try the self-care techniques listed below in the interim:
- Take acetaminophen or another over-the-counter pain treatment if the tooth hurts.
- Utilise salt water to rinse your mouth.
- To prevent a sharp or jagged edge from cutting your tongue, the inside of your lip, or the cheek, cover it with wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum.
- If you must eat, choose soft foods and refrain from biting your fractured teeth.
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on how severely it is damaged. If only a small piece of enamel broke off, the repair could usually be done simply in one office visit. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure. Here are some ways your dentist may repair your broken or chipped tooth.
Dental Filling or Bonding
Your emergency dentist may use a filling to fix the damage if you have only chipped a small portion of the tooth. They will probably utilise a bonding treatment utilizing a tooth-coloured composite resin if the repair is on a front tooth or can be seen when you smile.
In most cases, bonding is a quick procedure that doesn’t involve numbing the tooth. In order to make the bonding material adhere to a tooth, the dentist first roughens the surface with a liquid or gel. A tooth-coloured resin is then applied to the tooth after the dentist has applied an adhesive substance. The dentist uses ultraviolet radiation to solidify the bonding substance after moulding it to resemble a genuine tooth.
Dental Cap or Crown
If a large piece of tooth breaks off or the tooth has a lot of decay, a 24-hour dentist may grind or file away part of the remaining tooth and cover it with a crown, or tooth-shaped cap, made to protect the tooth and improve its appearance. Permanent crowns can be made from metal or porcelain fused to metal, all resin, or all ceramic. Different types have different benefits. All-metal crowns are the strongest. Porcelain and resin crowns can be made to look nearly identical to the original tooth.
If the entire top of the tooth is broken off, but the root is still intact, the emergency dentist or an endodontist may perform root canal therapy and place a pin or a post in the canal, and then build up enough of a structure onto which a crown can be made. Later, the dentist can cement the crown over the pin or post-retained restoration.
Getting a crown usually takes two visits to the dentist’s office. During the first visit, they may take X-rays to check the roots of the tooth and surrounding bone. If no further problems are detected, they will numb the tooth and surrounding gum and then remove enough remaining tooth to make room for a crown. If a break or chip has left a large piece of the tooth missing, your dentist can use a filling material to build up the tooth to hold the crown. Next, they will use a putty-like material to make an impression of the tooth receiving the crown and the opposing tooth (the one it will touch when you bite down). The impressions are sent to a lab where the crown is made. In the meantime, your dentist may place a temporary crown made of acrylic or thin metal.
During the second visit, typically 2 to 3 weeks later, your after-hours dentist will remove the temporary crown and check the fit of the permanent one before permanently cementing it in place. Some dental offices have special digital milling technology that enables them to make a crown on the same day without making a putty impression. They may also have intra-oral scanners that send a digital impression to a lab in an electronic file.
If a front tooth is broken or chipped, a dental veneer can make it look whole and healthy again. A dental veneer is a thin shell of tooth-coloured porcelain or resin composite material covering the entire front of the tooth (much like a false nail covers a fingernail) with a thicker section to replace the broken part of the tooth.
To prepare your tooth, your dentist will remove about 0.3 to 1.2 millimetres of enamel from its surface. Next, they will make an impression of the tooth to be sent to a dental laboratory, which will make the veneer. When the veneer is ready, usually a week or two later, you’ll need to go back to the dentist to have it placed. To place the veneer, your dentist will first etch the surface of the tooth with a liquid to roughen it. The dentist then applies a special cement to the veneer and places the veneer on the prepared tooth. Once the veneer is in position, they will use a special light to activate chemicals in the cement to make it harden quickly.
Root Canal Therapy
If a tooth chip or break is large enough to expose the pulp — the centre of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels — bacteria from the mouth can enter and infect the pulp. The pulp is probably damaged or diseased if your tooth hurts, changes colour, or is sensitive to heat. Pulp tissue can die; if it’s not removed, the tooth can become infected and need to be extracted. Root canal therapy involves removing the dead pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it. Emergency dentists or endodontists may perform root canal therapy. Most root canal therapies are no more painful than having a cavity filled. In most cases, the remaining tooth must be covered with a crown to protect the now-weakened tooth.
Chipped tooth causes can vary but often result from an accident or injury. If you have a chipped tooth, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible. Our team of emergency dentists in Adelaide are here to help repair your chipped tooth and restore your smile. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment.