Broken Tooth? When to Call Your Dentist, When to Go to the ER

Broken tooth repair in Polk City, IAWe’ve all done it before—bitten into a crunchy morsel or indulged an ice-chewing habit, or perhaps taken a tumble or walked into a pole. Embarrassing, yes, but especially if you accidentally chip your tooth in the process. When you visit Cornerstone Dental for a broken tooth in Polk City, IA, Dr. Hussong will examine the affected teeth and determine whether cosmetic or restorative dentistry is needed. Until then, it’s up to you to care for your tooth.

First, Ask Yourself These Questions

Before you contact our office, ask whether any of these conditions apply. If so, we recommend going straight to the nearest emergency room or urgent care center. Your overall health takes priority.

  • Did the patient sustain trauma to the face, neck, or head?
  • Does the patient have bleeding from the nose or ears?
  • Does the patient complain of disorientation, memory problems, or a headache?

Most hospitals employ an oral surgeon to treat dental injuries sustained in traumatic incidents. You wouldn’t call on him for porcelain veneers, of course, but it’s good to know that someone will be on hand to perform extractions, dental arch repair, and treatment for jaw fractures.

Now, About That Broken Tooth

A broken tooth isn’t always the result of traumatic injury. A badly decayed tooth or a tooth that has lost blood flow is more susceptible to chips and fractures. If your tooth enamel has been compromised by bruxism (teeth grinding) or another destructive habit, it is likely to break. Until you arrive at our office, Dr. Hussong recommends applying a cold compress to the outside of your mouth over the affected tooth. This will help reduce swelling and pain. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as Tylenol or Motrin. If the break creates a sharp edge, use a dab of orthodontic wax to temporarily cover the edge and avoid cuts. In a pinch, sugarless chewing gum works, too. Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to ward off infection.

Treatment Options for a Broken Tooth

Dr. Hussong offers several treatments to restore the tooth to its original shape and function. If tooth decay is to blame, a tooth-colored dental filling adds bulk to the hollowed-out area. Bonding, which also uses composite resin, is ideal for filling in chips, as well as improving the size of a tooth. We also use bonding to fill in gaps between teeth, or to cover stains that do not respond to teeth whitening. Either procedure can be performed in a single office visit. If a large portion of the tooth must be removed, a dental crown could be the answer. Another option, porcelain veneers, fulfills the same purposes as dental bonding, but with a natural appearance that is virtually indistinguishable from your own teeth.

Call Cornerstone Dental to treat your broken tooth. To learn more about dental emergencies or restorative dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact our office at (515) 984-6001. We welcome patients living in Ames, Alleman, Ankeny, Grimes, and the surrounding areas.

2 Responses to “Broken Tooth? When to Call Your Dentist, When to Go to the ER”

  1. Jason Smith

    What happens if I don’t get my broken tooth fixed? Is it just an esthetic thing?

    • Ryan Hussong

      Actually, a broken tooth can expose the sensitive layers of dentin below the enamel to bacteria. Your teeth can develop cavities or even infection. Minor chips may be purely cosmetic, but major damage can be a serious problem!