So you broke a tooth, and now you want to know if it can be fixed. Well the first step will be to find a dentist you trust. The next step is to find out why the tooth broke. Finally, your last step will be to, if possible, fix your tooth. Let’s go through these steps together.
Step 1: Find a Dentist you trust.
Hopefully, this is an easy step for you. If not, and if you’re from Leduc or Leduc County… well hey, I think we have some trustworthy dentists who will explain your diagnosis and review your options. If you already have a dentist you trust, then great, read this and you’ll be a little more informed for your visit.
Step 2: Find out why the tooth broke.
A tooth will break for several reasons.
You may have decay that has undermined your tooth’s hard enamel. This will sometimes result in tooth sensitivity or even a tooth ache; if the decay has been longstanding sometimes the nerve will have receded or died and no sensitivity will be present. If there is a lot of decay that goes beneath the gum, this tooth may need to be removed; if there is only a moderate amount, maybe you will get away with a filling, or at worst a root canal treatment.
Old fillings will sometimes have small fracture lines that surround them. The fracture lines can slowly expand over time and lead to larger portions of the tooth becoming susceptible to fracture. Often you will feel these larger fractured portions as fleeting sensitivity to hot and cold, or as brief pain on biting seeds or hard foods. Eventually these parts break off- usually when you bite into something as innocuous as an egg salad sandwich or a jujube. Once they break, you’ll maybe have some sensitivity to cold, but, more than not, the tooth feels better as you have released its internal tension.
Root canaled teeth can be very dry and brittle due to the nature of the root canal procedure. If you haven’t protected your root canaled tooth with a crown, it can break. If its breaks within the crown (or top) of the tooth it may be restorable. If it breaks down the root, extraction rules the day.
Trauma. If you get hit in the face with a hockey puck, you will likely break some teeth. If your bite feels off or a tooth comes out completely you should get checked out immediately- within 15-90 minutes. If its just a chip it is less urgent, but expect some sensitivity and pain. It may take up to a month to determine the ultimate fate of your traumatized tooth, as the inflammation around it dissipates.
Step 3: Fix your tooth
If the fracture involves less than a third of the tooth, a filling may be reasonable. Often a white filling can be used to restore the tooth, but sometimes a silver filling is necessary if the patient doesn’t brush well, or strength is important.
If it is more than a third of the tooth, a large filling may be acceptable if cost is an issue, but often a crown or onlay will be recommended. A crown surrounds a tooth and hugs it together to prevent further breakage. An onlay is a puzzle piece that replaces only the deficient portions of the tooth and preserves the healthy parts. A filling lasts on average 5-7 years, while an onlay or crown lasts an average of 10-15 years. Of course, this depends on the environment – don’t brush and floss and they won’t last.
If your tooth is unrestorable… well that’s for another blog post.
If you have questions, or want to come in for a visit at our downtown Leduc dental clinic, feel free to call or email us. Thanks for reading.