Your teeth are stronger than you might think. Even teeth with fillings remain strong and can last for years without damage. However, there’s always a chance you could find yourself with an unexpected dental issue.
Broken teeth or fillings can be a bit unnerving as they can happen very suddenly for what seems to be no apparent reason. You might simply be enjoying a meal, brushing your teeth, or even just feel something odd in your mouth, and the next thing you know, your tooth feels like it has come apart or is missing something.
When this happens, there’s no reason to panic. Although it is unsettling, a broken tooth or filling can easily be fixed with a visit to our office. Here’s what you should do when a tooth or filling breaks.
Common Causes of a Broken Tooth or Filling
It takes some form of “trauma” to break your tooth. While this sounds painful, the most common forms of trauma to cause tooth damage include:
- Cavities which can weaken the structure of your tooth
- Biting down on something hard, such as candy, or unexpectedly hard, such as a bone or gristle in meat
- Trauma to the face or mouth, such as being hit playing sports, or being in a car accident
- Poor dental hygiene that allows your tooth enamel to wear down or cavities to form
- Grinding your teeth or “Bruxism,” which can wear down your teeth and cause damage, such as cracks and breaks
Because many of these issues can be avoided with proper dental care, it’s important to stick to a daily dental hygiene regime.
What to Do if You Break a Tooth or Filling
Call your dentist immediately to set up an appointment. They will be able to determine what has happened, and in some cases might take an x-ray if they feel there might be an underlying issue.
If your tooth hurts, you can rinse your mouth with warm salt-water and take an over-the-counter pain killer. If you experience swelling, you can also place an ice pack over your cheek or lips in the area of the pain. Avoid eating anything hard until we have a chance to fix your tooth.
If we find a broken filling, the chances are that it is deteriorating because it’s old. Often a filling might have appeared fine on the surface but have issues below that have caused the filling to weaken. If decay sets in beneath a filling, the filling can also become loose. This is common in older fillings, which eventually can lead to some form of fracture.
Common Restorative Solutions for Broken Teeth and Fillings
When a tooth or filling breaks, the most common restorative solutions include:
If your tooth has not actually broken but instead just experienced a crack, your dentist can often simply polish the area, and you are good to go.
In many cases, you will simply need a filling or filling replacement to repair your tooth, as long as the integrity of your tooth has not been compromised.
3. Inlay or Onlay
If the tooth has been compromised but is still mostly intact, you might require a dental inlay or onlay.
An inlay is like a “plug” used for larger cavities or damaged teeth. It’s customized to fit the shape of the area requiring the filling. If the front surface of your tooth is broken off completely, an onlay is used. This restoration acts like a partial crown designed to cap the missing area of the tooth surface.
If the tooth is severely damaged, but your root is intact, your dentist will likely recommend a porcelain crown. The crown acts as a replacement tooth that completely forms a cap over the remaining tooth to protect your root.
5. Root canal
If the break causes severe, deep nerve or tissue damage, a root canal is performed to remove the damaged root. Your dentist will seal the tooth and cover it with a crown.
In extreme cases, such as a vertical break, irreparable root damage, or serious decay, we might have to remove the tooth completely. In this case, we can recommend a number of tooth replacement options to avoid further issues.
Why You Need Immediate Repair
The longer you leave your broken tooth exposed, the greater the chance for bacteria and food particles to cause more damage. This can lead to infection quicker than you think, which means your tooth can become quite painful.
If the infection reaches deep into your tooth, you could require a root canal. By addressing the issue immediately, you can get your tooth fixed before anything worse can happen. Also, if it is a noticeable break, it can affect the appearance of your smile!
How to Avoid Broken Teeth or Fillings
There are many steps you can take to help avoid broken teeth and fillings, including:
1. Good oral health
By sticking to a daily regime of brushing and flossing twice a day, you can help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
2. Avoid hard foods
Avoid anything hard such as candy, candy apples, crunching on ice, etc.
3. Wear a mouthguard
If you participate in activities or sports, speak to our team about a customized mouthguard to reduce the risk of broken teeth.
4. Wear a nightguard
If you think you are grinding your teeth at night, or our team points out signs of wear and tear due to grinding, consider having a customized night guard made to protect your teeth while you sleep.
5. Don’t bite hard objects
Avoid biting your nails and using your teeth to open packages or to chew on anything that’s not food!
If you damage a tooth or filling, there’s no need to panic. Just call your local dentist to arrange an appointment.
To learn more about how your broken tooth or teeth can be fixed, call Guelph Family Dentistry at 519-265-5115 or contact us here.