Broken teeth are a common dental injury. Teeth that have already experienced some decay are more susceptible to chips and fractures, as are those that have already received dental restoration treatment such as fillings. A facial injury can also result in broken teeth.
Fortunately, a broken tooth is easy to treat and there are several different options available to repair or replace the tooth depending on how much of it has been damaged. The dentist will conduct an examination to decide if your tooth should be repaired or replaced.
If the amount of damage to the tooth is small, it may be able to be repaired with a dental crown, which acts as a sort of ‘cap’. The procedure is very quick; the dentist applies the crown to the broken part of your tooth, covering the surface and restoring biting function. The crown also protects your tooth from infection. Crowns are very durable and should last for at least a decade before needing to be replaced.
If the entire top section of your tooth has broken off but the root is still intact, a crown alone may not be sufficient to repair the damage. The best treatment in these circumstances is a root canal filling as this will allow your natural tooth to be preserved. During the root canal filling procedure, the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed to protect against further damage and prevent an infection developing. A dental crown is then placed on top of the root canal filling to restore biting function.
Unfortunately, if the damage is very severe, such as the broken tooth being damaged below the gum line (affecting the root), it might not be able to be preserved, and the best course of action will be for it to be extracted. Sometimes, you can’t see a break from the outside, but damage has occurred under the gum. If an extraction is required, the dentist will also discuss tooth replacement options.
If you break a tooth, you should see your dentist as soon as possible. Getting a broken tooth treated immediately can prevent further damage, increase the chances of your natural tooth being saved and also prevent complications such as an infection from developing. Ignoring a broken tooth can result in an extraction being the only option, when an earlier repair could have saved it.