A tooth that has been broken, chipped or cracked should be considered as a dental emergency. Whether the injury is caused by an accident or by biting down on a hard food, the outcome is still the same and a dentist should be called immediately. If not treated quickly, other complications can come up and you could even end up losing your tooth. By visiting a dentist as fast as possible you’ll be able to avoid infection, further damage and could very well end up saving your tooth.
The treatment required will all depend on the severity of the damage. An x-ray will be required to see exactly what type of trauma the tooth has suffered. If only a small part of the enamel has been cracked, chipped or broken, the repair can often be done quickly on the spot. If, however, the injury is more substantial, you may require a more complicated and time-consuming treatment.
Your Treatment Options
If extensive damage has occurred your dentist may recommend extracting the tooth, but this is only done in extreme circumstances. In many cases the tooth can be saved or restored through procedures such as veneers, a root canal, dental bonding or a crown.
A crown is a restoration treatment that is commonly used on teeth that have been badly chipped, cracked or broken. The Crown covers the entire tooth to protect it from further damage. It also improves the appearance of the tooth, which is important if the injured tooth is located near the front of the mouth.
Dental bonding uses a composite material to repair small cracks, chips and breaks in the tooth. This procedure is chosen when the injury is not severe and can often be done on the spot when you are in the dental chair for your emergency appointment. The dentist will clean up the tooth around the injury, apply the composite material and then harden it using an ultraviolet light. The material chosen will match the color of the tooth and it will be very difficult to distinguish where the tooth ends and where the bonding begins.
Veneers can also hide small superficial breaks, chips and cracks in the tooth and are considered to be a long-term solution. They are more expensive than bonding but also have a longer life expectancy. Veneers are made of wafer-thin material, often porcelain, which are bonded to the tooth. These veneers look just like natural teeth and it’s next to impossible to tell when someone is wearing them.
A root canal is often indicated when a trauma has occurred to a tooth. If the root of the tooth has been affected in any way, the patient may need a root canal. This procedure involves removing the nerve and the pulp from the inside of the canal to prevent any infection.
An implant may be necessary if the whole tooth needs to be extracted. A titanium post is inserted into the jawbone and once the post has fused into the bone an artificial tooth can be attached to it. If an implant isn’t possible due to financial reasons, the patient may have to wear a partial denture instead. In some cases it may also be possible to create a bridge to fill in the space where the tooth is missing.
You will have options when you have injured your tooth but the most important thing to remember is to make a dental appointment immediately as soon as something happens. If you don’t, you could possibly end up losing a tooth that could have otherwise been saved.