Help! My Tooth Broke! What Do I Do?

dentist working on a woman's teeth

A chipped or broken tooth can be more than uncomfortable and painful. It can also tarnish your smile and cause you to feel less than your best. Life’s too short for that! Thankfully, there are plenty of solutions for getting broken teeth fixed. Just ask Dr. Dan at Ponderosa Dental!

Why Do Teeth Crack or Break?

Your teeth are incredibly strong. Tooth enamel is actually the hardest substance in the human body! Even so, teeth aren’t indestructible. Over time, many factors can push your teeth past their breaking point. These factors include:

  • Grinding your teeth
  • Getting hit in the jaw or chin
  • Biting something hard like ice or candy
  • Tooth weakness from fillings or extreme gum disease

A tooth can also break in different ways depending on the cause and your dental health.

  • Cracked tooth: A common type of crack is one that goes from the biting surface of the tooth to the gum, and sometimes below the gum line. The tooth isn’t cracked into two pieces, but the inside of the tooth is damaged.

Even though a cracked tooth might look whole, don’t put off seeing your dentist. “Extensive cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum surrounding the tooth,” notes the American Association of Endodontists.

  • Split tooth: A tooth can split in two if a crack is left untreated. Again, don’t let a little crack turn into a big issue!
  • Fractured cusp: The cusp is the pointed, elevated part of your tooth that helps you chew. Your molars have four or five cusps, premolars have two each, and your “canine teeth” have one each. These bumpy parts can become damaged while chewing and cause the tooth to break. Fractured cusps aren’t always painful. You might not even notice one is broken.
  • Craze lines: Craze lines are superficial lines on the surface of a tooth that do not require immediate treatment. Craze lines are not painful but aren’t always pleasant to look at. They can be fixed with veneers and other cosmetic procedures.

How to Fix a Broken Tooth

Call your dentist as soon as you notice you have a broken tooth. Even if the cracked tooth isn’t painful, you should still have it looked at to avoid further damage and infection.

Your dentist can present you with the best broken tooth repair for your situation. Repair options include:

  • Reattaching the tooth fragment: Still have the tooth part that broke off? Please put it in a glass of milk! The calcium will help keep the tooth alive. If you don’t have any milk, hold the tooth fragment in your gum and head to your dentist right away. Your dentist may be able to cement the part back in place.
  • Bonding: Bonding is when a strong tooth-colored plastic or ceramic is cemented to your tooth and shaped to match its natural form. UV light hardens and dries the material. Your dentist will shape the material until it matches the existing look and feel of your natural teeth.
  • Veneers: Dental veneers are thin, custom-made coverings that attach to the surface of your teeth. A veneer is an excellent solution for a broken front tooth that’s highly visible.
  • Dental crowns: A crown is a good fix in situations when a large piece of tooth broke off or the tooth has lots of decay. The crown sits on top of the damaged tooth to protect it. A crown might be great for you if you have a broken molar or back tooth that doesn’t have root damage.

How to Prevent Broken Teeth

Sometimes broken teeth just happen. You get hit in the face while playing sports or accidentally fall on the ski slope and hit your mouth. But there are a few things you can be mindful of to help prevent cracked teeth. The American Association of Endodontists recommends the following:

  • Avoid chewing on hard foods and objects like hard candy, biscottis, olive pits, ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, and pens.
  • Don’t grind your teeth. If you know you grind your teeth at night, let’s look at getting you a nighttime mouthguard!
  • Always wear a mouthguard or mask when playing contact sports.

Schedule Broken Tooth Repair in Missoula

Are you struggling with broken tooth pain in Missoula, MT? Let’s get you back to feeling your best! Call Dr. Dan at Ponderosa Dental at the first sign of a cracked or broken tooth. We’ll consider the location of the damaged tooth, your budget, and your smile preferences when recommending a broken tooth repair.