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What to Do When You Chip or Break a Tooth

4 August,2017

What to Do When You Chip or Break a Tooth

Teeth are incredibly durable, and we put them to work every day. It is only natural that they can be overworked and unfortunately are susceptible to chips, cracks and breakage. This can happen in a number of ways, including through biting down on something hard, being hit hard in the mouth, falling, through cavities that weaken the tooth or old fillings that don’t support the tooth.

Although smaller chips can go unnoticed, larger fractures can cause pain, and could lead to nerve damage, or nerve exposure to hot or cold temperatures which causes discomfort. In the case that you do chip or fracture your tooth, there are a number of steps you can take, including:

  • Rinsing the mouth with warm water to try and alleviate pain and clean the area.
  • Try to stop any bleeding by applying pressure with a piece of gauze to the area for roughly 10 minutes.
  • If the tooth is broken, apply an ice pack to the lip or cheek area closest to the broken tooth as it will help to reduce swelling and alleviate some pain.
  • Try to cover the area with temporary dental cement, which can be found at most chemists
  • See your dentist as soon as possible, or head to an emergency dental clinic.

What to Expect from Your Dentist

Depending on what type of breakage you are experiencing, and the severity of it, your dentist will approach it differently. These include:

Minor cracks: Lines that are small and only affect the outer surface, or enamel, of the tooth. These rarely require treatment, and can be smoothed over with a light polish from your dentist.

Cracked tooth: This is a more serious fracture, where the crack is deep enough to expose the nerve.  Although the tooth piece hasn’t broken off completely, it can spread into a more serious problem. It can be fixed with filling material; however, it may require a crown to prevent the crack worsening. If the pulp within the tooth has been effected, it may require a root canal to rectify the issue.

Chips: Again, these don’t always require treatment. It may be suggested by your dentist that the chip is filled with a material as a precaution, or to make it look whole again.

Serious breaks: This is where the nerve is fully exposed because of the severity of the tooth’s breakage. This is treated through a root canal treatment to remove the nerve that is exposed and restore the tooth with a crown to ensure that you can continue to chew with it without complete removal of the tooth.