A broken tooth? It sounds straightforward enough, but few people realize that not all broken teeth are the same. For example, not all fractures actually cause pain, whereas some cause pain that comes and goes. Others, such as those that expose the root of the tooth, cause constant pain. If you have a broken tooth in Polk City, IA, we advise contacting Dr. Ryan Hussong as soon as possible. Timely treatment is essential to saving your tooth.
First Aid for a Broken Tooth
In the event of a broken tooth, Dr. Hussong recommends taking the following steps:
- Contact our office as soon as possible. If you are able to come in immediately, do so, calling us as you make your way to Cornerstone Dental. In the meantime:
- Gently rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Place sterile cotton or gauze over the bleeding area for approximately 10 minutes. If the area continues bleeding, you can place a tea bag over it to staunch the flow.
- If you experience swelling in the lips of cheek near the affected tooth, apply an ice pack to the area.
- Take an over-the-counter analgesic, such as Tylenol or Aleve.
- If you cannot stop by our office when the injury occurs, use dental cement to hold the broken fragment in place.
Seven Common Types of Broken Teeth
Most broken teeth can be placed into one of seven main categories:
Craze lines are minor cracks that only affect your tooth enamel, the outermost surface of the tooth. Because these small cracks do not cause discomfort, restorative dentistry is rarely needed. If the crack is obvious, however, Dr. Hussong may use a dental instrument to carefully polish it to become less conspicuous.
Treatment for a chipped tooth depends on the size of the damaged area. For a very small chip, Dr. Hussong may be able to polish the area to create a smooth surface. A larger chip could be repaired with composite resin, the material used for dental fillings. The resin can be tinted to match your tooth color, so the results appear natural. Even a small chip creates a sharp or rough edge that could irritate your tongue, so it’s best to seek treatment, if not immediately.
The cusp of your tooth is the pointed surface used to chew your food. Most broken cusps affect only the chewing surface of the tooth and do not reach the root. As a result, they do not usually cause discomfort. Because the break may eventually worsen, however, you should still seek treatment. Dr. Hussong usually recommends a dental crown for broken cusps.
A severe break goes down far enough that it exposes the nerve within the tooth, making it one of the most painful types of dental injury. You will experience bleeding, and a root canal treatment will be necessary to remove the nerve before Dr. Hussong tops the tooth with a dental crown.
A tooth that has split vertically into two segments is likely to require a root canal treatment, especially if the tooth has only one root. Dr. Hussong will begin by extracting any damaged roots, then cleaning the tooth and removing traces of debris or decay. After sealing the tooth, he will create a porcelain crown to restore function to the tooth. If he is unable to salvage at least one root, an extraction is necessary.
A split root, also called a vertical break, is one of the most painful kinds of fractures. The crack originates in the tooth root, then extends upward until it reaches the chewing surface of the tooth. In most cases, this results in inflammation and infection in and around the root, and extraction is the best option.
Neglecting to seek treatment for a cavity increases your risk of decay-induced breakage. Weakened by deterioration, the tooth crumbles in on itself. A tooth that has been so badly damaged by decay may require a porcelain dental crown, especially if the affected area is too large to treat with a composite filling. If your tooth sustains severe damage, Dr. Hussong may recommend an extraction. After removing what’s left of the tooth, he will help you decide whether a dental implant, partial denture, or dental bridge will best meet your needs.
A broken tooth is a true dental emergency. To learn more about dental emergencies, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients of all ages living in Alleman, Ames, Ankeny, Grimes, West Des Moines, and the surrounding areas. You can also follow us on Facebook.