If you have ever experienced the distress of a broken tooth, you understand how unsettling it can be. However, there’s no need to panic if you find yourself with this dental emergency. Today, I’ll guide you through simple steps to fix a broken tooth at home that can help you temporarily manage the situation. It is important to remember that these measures are temporary, and visiting your dentist is crucial for a long-term solution. Your dentist is the only one equipped to provide comprehensive care and ensure your tooth receives the appropriate treatment.
How Severe Is the Cracked Tooth
Before exploring how to repair a broken tooth, it is crucial to assess the severity of the break. Tooth fractures can range from minor chips to more serious cracks or fractures.
Types of Tooth Fractures
- Craze Lines: These are fine cracks (usually vertical) on the tooth enamel caused by malocclusion. Malocclusion refers to misalignment or improper positioning of teeth, leading to uneven pressure and craze line development. Though initially harmless, prompt attention is vital because these tiny cracks act as stress points, making teeth prone to further damage or fractures.
- Chipped Tooth: A chipped tooth is when a small piece of the tooth enamel breaks off. You will likely chip your tooth due to accidents, trauma, or biting into hard objects. The severity of the chip can vary, from minor enamel chips to more extensive fractures that extend deeper into the tooth. Treatment for a chipped tooth depends on the extent of the damage and can range from cosmetic composite bonding or filling to more extensive dental procedures like dental crowns.
- Cracked Tooth: This is when the fracture extends through the tooth structure but doesn’t separate it into distinct pieces. Cracks can vary in size, depth, and direction. If you fracture your tooth, you may experience the following symptoms: pain when biting or chewing, sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, or intermittent discomfort. Treatment options for a cracked tooth depend on the extent and location of the crack. In some cases, dental bonding or a crown may be sufficient, while more severe cracks may require root canal therapy or tooth extraction.
- Fractured Cusp: A fractured cusp occurs when a portion of the tooth’s chewing surface, known as the cusp, breaks off. The risk of cracking a tooth increases when a large filling covers more than fifty percent of your tooth’s surface. When your tooth has more filling than its natural structure, it becomes weaker and susceptible to damage from ongoing chewing pressure. Fortunately, fractured cusps generally do not affect the tooth’s root or pulp. Dental crowns are commonly used as a treatment option to restore function and protect the tooth from further harm. Crowns help reinforce the tooth and ensure its long-term durability.
- Split Tooth: A split tooth is a more severe type of fracture; this occurs when a tooth separates into distinct segments. Your tooth will split if you do not get treated when it is still a crack or fracture. The tooth crack or fracture will continue progressing until the tooth breaks into two or more pieces. A split tooth is not salvageable as a whole and may require extraction. However, depending on the situation, a dentist may be able to save a portion of the tooth through endodontic treatment (root canal) and a crown.
- Vertical Root Fracture: A root fracture crack extends vertically within the tooth’s root structure. These fractures can be challenging to diagnose as they are often invisible to the naked eye and require specialized imaging techniques to identify their presence and location accurately. Symptoms of a tooth with a vertical root fracture may include localized pain or swelling in the affected area. Unfortunately, vertical root fractures usually require extraction, as they can cause persistent infection and complications.
If your tooth is severely damaged or experiencing intense pain or excessive bleeding, it is best to seek immediate professional dental care.
Quick Actions to Take When You Have a Chipped Tooth
- Warm saltwater Rinse: Mix half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gently swish it around your mouth. Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater helps cleanse the area and reduces the risk of infection.
- Manage bleeding or swelling: Apply gentle pressure with clean gauze or a moistened tea bag to control bleeding. If swelling occurs, use a cold compress outside your mouth close to the affected area.
- Temporary pain relief methods: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help with broken tooth pain relief until you see a dentist who will provide the treatment needed.
- Be cautious with food and activities: Avoid chewing on the affected side and opt for soft foods to prevent further damage.
How to Fix a Broken Tooth At Home
Dental wax or temporary filling material
These products, available at most drugstores, you can use them to can cover jagged edges and protect your tongue and cheeks from irritation. If you can not find dental wax you can also use chewing gum to cover the jagged edge of the affected tooth.
Over-the-counter dental cement
When faced with a lost filling or crown, dental cement comes to the rescue. By applying dental cement, you can effectively shield the tooth, preventing both tooth sensitivity and the discomfort of food particles trapped in the void left by the missing filling. In the case of a dislodged crown, dental cement works as a temporary fix, securely holding the crown in place until you can visit your dentist for a permanent solution. Dental cement buys you precious time to bridge the gap until you can see your dentist.
Cold compress for pain and swelling
To alleviate pain and swelling, gently place an ice pack wrapped with a thin cloth on the outer part of your mouth for 10-15 minutes at a time.
Natural remedies like clove oil
Applying a small amount of clove oil to the affected area may provide temporary pain relief due to its natural numbing properties.
Causes of a Chipped or Broken Tooth
Chipping or breaking a tooth can happen due to various factors. Understanding the common causes can help you take preventive measures to protect your teeth. Here are some primary reasons for chipped or broken teeth:
- Accidents and Trauma: Falls, sports injuries, or any impact on the face can lead to immediate tooth damage. Wearing protective gear during high-risk activities, such as a bite guard, can reduce the risk of dental injuries.
- Biting or Chewing Hard Objects: Using your teeth as tools or biting down on hard objects (eating ice or opening bottles) can exert excessive force and damage the tooth. Avoid putting unnecessary stress on your teeth, and refrain from using them for activities other than eating.
- Tooth Decay and Cavities: Untreated tooth decay weakens the enamel, making it more prone to chipping or breaking. Practice good oral hygiene and get regular dental check-ups, as these are essential for preventing decay-related tooth damage.
- Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Chronic teeth grinding can gradually wear down enamel and lead to chips or fractures. Wearing a nightguard can help protect the teeth from grinding forces.
- Uneven Bite (Malocclusion): An uneven bite can create imbalanced pressure on specific teeth, increasing the risk of chipping or breaking. Correcting malocclusion through orthodontic treatments can reduce the risk of dental damage.
Now that you know these causes, you can take preventive measures to protect your teeth and reduce the risk of chipping or breaking them in the future.
When to Seek Professional Dental Care
While the temporary relief methods I mentioned earlier can help manage the situation, it’s essential to understand when to seek professional dental care. Here are some indicators that it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist:
- Severe and Persistent Pain: If you experience intense or worsening pain in your broken tooth, finding an emergency dentist is crucial. Severe pain can be a sign of underlying issues that require professional attention.
- Excessive Bleeding or Swelling: Do not ignore uncontrolled bleeding or significant swelling around the broken tooth; these symptoms may indicate an infection or other complications that need immediate dental care.
- Difficulty Eating or Speaking: If the broken tooth hinders your ability to chew food properly or affects your speech, it’s a clear sign that professional intervention is necessary. Your dentist can assess the situation and provide appropriate treatment options.
- Visible Damage to Tooth Structure: When the broken tooth shows visible damage, such as a large fracture or exposed nerves, it’s essential to seek dental care. Visible structural damage often requires professional treatment to restore functionality and aesthetics.
- Timely Availability: Schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as your schedule aligns with their availability. Prompt, professional care can prevent further complications and ensure a speedy recovery.
In the next section, I’ll talk about the potential treatment options that your dentist may discuss with you, depending on the severity of your case. Professional dental care is vital for a long-term and effective solution to a broken tooth.
Long-Term Broken Tooth Repair Options
When faced with a broken tooth, it’s essential to understand that the repair process will ultimately depend on the severity of the break. While temporary home remedies can provide immediate relief, seeking professional dental care for a long-term solution is crucial. Here are some standard broken tooth repair options:
- Dental Bonding: This a popular and relatively simple procedure for repairing minor tooth fractures. A tooth-colored resin material is applied and shaped to match the natural tooth during this treatment. The resin is then hardened using a special light, bonding it to the tooth. Dental Bonding can restore the tooth’s appearance and functionality, improving aesthetics and bite alignment.
- Dental Crown: Your dentist will prescribe a crown for more extensive tooth fractures or when a large portion of the tooth is damaged. A dental crown is a specially made cover that goes over the part of the tooth you can see above the gums (like a football helmet goes over the head). It provides strength, protection and restores the tooth’s shape and function. The process involves reshaping the damaged tooth, taking impressions, and fabricating a crown in a dental lab. The crown is then permanently cemented onto the prepared tooth.
- Root Canal Treatment: When the fracture of a tooth extends into the dental pulp, which houses nerves and blood vessels, root canal treatment becomes necessary. Root canal treatment is when your dentist removes the damaged or infected nerve of the tooth, thoroughly cleans the root canals, and seals them to prevent further infection. Following the root canal, your dentist will place a crown on the treated tooth to strengthen and protect against future damage. This comprehensive approach ensures the restoration of the tooth’s function and appearance, promoting long-term oral health.
- Dental Veneers: These custom-made, thin shells are bonded to the front surface of the teeth, enhancing their appearance. Veneers are an option for your dentist to repair minor fractures that primarily affect your tooth’s enamel, thus improving its aesthetics and function. Veneers are commonly made from porcelain or composite resin, and your dentist or a dental lab technician will design them to match the color and shape of the surrounding teeth.
- Tooth Extraction and Replacement: In severe cases where you damage your tooth extensively beyond repair, an extraction is your only option. Following the extraction, several options are available for replacing the missing tooth, including dental implants, bridges, or dentures. These options aim to restore your teeth’ appearance, functionality, and alignment and prevent potential complications from missing teeth.
Chipped Tooth Repair Cost
Please remember that the cost ranges provided are approximate and can vary depending on factors such as the severity of the tooth damage, the location, and the dentist’s expertise. Additionally, dental insurance coverage or specific dental providers may affect costs. It’s essential to consult with your dentist to get an accurate estimate for your particular situation.
Preventive Measures to Protect the Tooth
To maintain good oral health and minimize the risk of future tooth fractures, consider the following preventive measures:
- Adopt a regular oral hygiene routine, including brushing twice daily and flossing daily.
- Consume a balanced diet rich in essential nutrients, particularly calcium and vitamin D, to promote strong teeth.
- Avoid habits that can cause tooth fractures, such as chewing on ice, eating hard foods like hard candy biting hard objects, or using your teeth as tools.
- Wearing a mouthguard to protect your teeth is a good idea if you engage in physical activities that pose a dental injury risk.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
- Is it possible to repair a broken tooth at home without a dentist? While there are temporary measures you can take to alleviate discomfort, you need to consult a dentist for a comprehensive solution. Home remedies provide temporary relief until you can receive professional dental care.
- Is using over-the-counter dental cement to fix a broken tooth safe temporarily? Over-the-counter dental cement can be used as a temporary solution to hold a lost filling or crown in place. However, this is only a short-term fix; you can use dental cement to provide temporary relief until you can see a dentist. Follow the instructions carefully and avoid excessive use.
- Can I use superglue or household adhesives to repair a broken tooth? Do not use superglue or household adhesives on a fractured tooth. These substances are not meant for oral use and can be harmful if ingested. Additionally, they may not provide an appropriate bond for the tooth structure.
- Are there any natural remedies I can use to relieve pain from a broken tooth? Natural remedies like clove oil can temporarily relieve tooth pain due to its numbing properties. Apply a tiny amount of clove oil to the affected area using a cotton swab.
- Will a broken tooth heal on its own without any intervention? Unfortunately, a fractured tooth cannot heal on its own. Unlike other body parts, teeth cannot regenerate or repair themselves naturally. A broken tooth leads to further damage, infection, and discomfort without appropriate treatment.
Dealing with a broken tooth can be worrisome. Still, by following these simple steps for temporary relief at home, you can alleviate discomfort and protect your oral cavity until you can see a dentist. Professional dental care is crucial for a long-term solution, so please schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Take care of your teeth, and don’t delay seeking professional help.