Fracturing or breaking your teeth can be a serious dental emergency requiring your immediate reaction. You sustain the injury when your tooth enamel cracks and exposes the inner, sensitive dentine zone, and this may arise from various causes that put excess pressure on your teeth. Based on this, you become prone to infections and other serious complications.

Depending on the injury, the condition may also cause severe pain and bleeding, making it important to visit your dentist as soon as possible. Their intervention can help reduce the severity of the injury, and you will also receive guidelines on what to do as a post-treatment remedy.

At Washington Dental, we offer quality dental services from skilled and experienced dentists. Our team has previously handled multiple cases of fractured and broken teeth, making us familiar with the most effective remedies applicable to each case. We also have quality equipment and enough professionals, so you can look forward to receiving excellent services for every visit you make. Our services are available for patients facing fractured or broken teeth in Lomita, California.

The Nature of Fractured or Broken Teeth

A healthy tooth consists of the enamel, pulp, and roots inside the gums and jawbone. The tooth structure leaves the hard enamel on the surface because it can withstand temperatures, pressures, and varying sugar and acid amounts.

Your enamel is the hard, white tooth surface used for chewing, grinding, and biting, making it the protective layer for the inner and more sensitive tooth parts. It should remain intact unless an accident or infection occurs.

A broken or fractured tooth is a serious injury involving breaking the hard enamel and exposing the sensitive parts to external elements. Upon fracturing or breaking your tooth, you will experience symptoms that warrant you seeking professional assistance.

As you await dental treatment for a broken or fractured tooth, you need to manage the injury to avoid continuous discomfort. For example, consider taking over-the-counter medication for pain management. You can also secure the fractured or broken tooth using a small gauze to prevent it from cracking further or completely breaking off the jawbone.

Causes of Broken and Fractured Teeth

Many patients suffer an accident before breaking or fracturing their teeth, so you need to understand the various causes to determine if you could have sustained the injury. Learning about the different causes helps you identify the issue if it occurs without having an impact on your teeth.

The main causes of broken or fractured teeth are:

High Pressure from Grinding Your Teeth

If you have a habit of grinding, you risk breaking or fracturing your teeth because of the high pressure on them. Some patients grind their teeth compulsively, while others do it subconsciously, especially in their sleep. The latter case can cause more serious injuries because you may be unaware that you grind your teeth, making it difficult to manage.

Continuous tooth grinding wears off the enamel surface over time, making it weaker and more prone to breakage. Due to this, you should attend regular checkups with your dentist to assess whether your enamel surface is eroded. If so, they can provide management options like wearing a mouth guard when sleeping or having dental blocks placed on your premolars and molars.

Patients may also break their teeth if they clench their jaws hard, mainly as an expression of frustration or anger. Additional treatment to manage the psychological effects may be necessary to prevent tooth fractures or breakage in the future.

Chewing or Biting into a Hard Object

Exposing the tooth to excessive force by biting or chewing something hard is also dangerous, as it can cause breakage. You will likely sustain injuries if you are prone to activities like opening bottle tops or other hard seals with your teeth.

Additionally, biting into bones is a known cause of tooth fracture or breakage, especially if you do it accidentally. The main reason for this is that you did not anticipate the hard surface, meaning you used high force to bite or chew.

Upon feeling the impact of chewing or biting into a hard object, spit out all mouth contents to help you assess the effects of impact. You can request that anyone close to you check for cracks or chips in the inner teeth to determine whether to visit your dentist immediately.

Abrupt Temperature Changes

When exposed to different temperatures, your teeth are solids subject to expansion and contraction. Although the physical expansion and contraction are minimal, they could seriously affect the tooth and cause fractures or breakage.

The situation may arise when you expose the teeth to cold temperatures and suddenly introduce a hot element into the mouth. Since your tooth will have contracted from the cold temperature, sudden expansion from the hot food or beverage will cause cracks on the surface. Upon noticing the situation, call your dentist immediately to help you receive the necessary treatment.

High Impact on the Face from an Attack, Falling, or an Accident

Your jaw supports your teeth by holding them in place as long as you do not expose them to high forces and impacts. Nevertheless, unforeseen circumstances may introduce excess force upon impact, resulting in broken and fractured teeth.

You may sustain injuries when playing high-impact sports like boxing and rugby, and the incident may arise regardless of wearing a mouth guard. Additionally, involvement in a car accident or falling victim to a violent attack can also cause dental injuries.

Regardless of the cause of injuries, consider seeking immediate dental service assistance to avoid complications. You can also take photos of your injuries before arriving at the clinic to help the dentist determine an effective emergency treatment option.

Retaining Fillings for Too Long

Dental fillings are an effective treatment method for cavities and moderate tooth decay. They fill up the holes created during infections and are often made of metal. While they support the tooth, they have a limited wearability duration.

Retaining dental fillings for too long can make them malleable, resulting in deformities. Subsequently, they no longer fit well along the tooth surface, exposing it to breakage.

When your fillings deform, they could cause fractures or breakage due to uneven pressure on the tooth surface. For example, if an old dental filling leaves space for food particles to stick to, it may increase pressure within the tooth enamel and cause it to crack or break.

Old Age

As you grow older, your teeth are prone to weakening due to years of friction from chewing and grinding. You will likely feel the effects of aging more if you lack a consistent cleaning routine and your overall diet contains high sugar levels over the years.

Since the enamel weakens over time, your risk of tooth fractures or breakage may affect your ability to bite or chew properly. Seeking dental attention is important, especially if the breakage has yet to spread along the entire tooth surface.

Tooth Cavities and Decay

Bacterial invasions of your teeth eventually result in cavities and tooth decay, especially if you do not receive timely treatment. Cavities are holes on the enamel surface that occur after bacteria release harmful chemicals as waste from consuming sugar and food particles stuck between your teeth.

With continuous exposure to bacteria from consuming sugary foods and inconsistent brushing, the cavities develop into tooth decay. The advanced infection continues to chip away at the tooth surface by creating larger holes.

Since the enamel has less surface area, it is weaker and more prone to breakage and fracturing when chewing or biting. The condition worsens if you do not seek your dentist’s help, as your teeth are more sensitive to even the slightest pressure.

Types of Breakage and Fracture Injuries

When your tooth breaks or fractures, the injury may manifest differently depending on the point of impact and the force against the tooth surface. Based on this, your dentist aims to determine the severity of the injury by checking whether you have sustained any of the following:

A Split Tooth

Tooth splitting results in a line running from the top to the bottom of your tooth enamel, exposing the inner tooth parts. The injury is dangerous; your tooth breaks into two and may expose the roots to external elements and bacteria.

The tooth does not necessarily have to split straight down the middle, and some patients may experience a worse breakage along the cross-section. If so, your tooth may break off if you delay seeking treatment.

Your dentist may recommend removing the tooth crown, which cannot remain functional after the breakage. Additionally, you may have to schedule a root canal if the breakage extends to the root, as it may have damaged and exposed it to additional harm.

Breakage on the Ridges and Cusps

Injury to your premolars and molars can also leave your ridges and cusps broken, and the condition may expose you to additional injuries from the sharp and uneven edges. While you may not necessarily feel discomfort after the ridges and cusps break, you need to seek dental services to repair the enamel.

After assessment, your dentist may recommend smoothing out the broken surface and adding a dental block to restore proper tooth function. However, some patients need complete crown removal to prevent continuous injuries to their tongue and inner cheeks, especially if the breakage took out a significant part of the enamel.

Minor or Severe Cracks

Sustaining a minor crack may occur after biting on a hard object, extending to a small enamel surface. If so, you receive corrective services, including smoothing the tooth out and applying a polishing treatment for a complete restoration.

On the other hand, a deep or severe crack warrants additional treatment to prevent a complete split in the enamel. The crack will likely impact the nerves, as they are spread out on the gums and jawbone surface.

A major crack may cause complications if left untreated, exposing sensitive tooth parts to bacteria. Over time, you may suffer infections that cause swelling and serious pain. To avoid this, consider seeking treatment urgently after noticing a cracked tooth.

Root Splitting

Exposure to severe pressure on your tooth causes splitting from within, inverse to the enamel surface cracking. A split root breaks off its secure position and rises to the gum surface, exposing you to serious pain and potential infection.

Since a root split is less common than enamel fractures, you may be unable to identify it immediately. Seeking treatment soon after experiencing pain and an unusual bulge on your gums should help remedy the condition, as your dentist can remove or restore the root.

Complete Tooth Fracture

After involvement in a serious accident, you may suffer a complete tooth fracture, whereby the nerves and dentine are exposed after the enamel breaks off. Serious fractures often involve continuous bleeding until you receive first aid or responsive treatment, so you need to contact your dentist soon after the injury.

In the meantime, you can gently clean the affected tooth to establish the extent of damage suffered. Sometimes, the internal, sensitive parts are visible, indicating that a significant chunk has broken off. Thus, you can expect your dentist to offer crown restoration treatment and any other suitable option for complete recovery.

Preparing for Treatment for Fractured and Broken Teeth

After identifying a possibly broken or fractured tooth and scheduling a dentist appointment, your dentist takes over treatment. They follow a specific course of action to ensure they identify the exact type of injury, and the information guides them on the most effective treatment option to apply.

Based on this, you will undergo several pre-treatment procedures to help with diagnosis and designing treatment strategies. Some procedures used to remedy broken and fractured teeth include:

Performing a Physical Examination

Physical examinations are an excellent starting point for your dentist to establish the nature of your injury, as they use visual indicators to guide them. The dentist performs basic steps during the examination, like looking at the impacted tooth.

They then advance the exam to establish how severe the injury is by asking you to bite into a dental tool. As you do so, the dentist checks your reaction and determines whether the tooth breakage is more visible when more pressure is applied.

You can also expect the dentist to use a scraper and mirror to determine whether the crack extends deep into the tooth and whether remedies to prevent additional cracking are necessary.

Applying Dye for Further Assessment

Although you may be aware of sustaining a tooth injury, you may be unable to identify the type of fracture or breakage and its severity. Your dentist may also struggle to identify the crack during the physical examination.

Applying dental dye for better visibility is an option, as your dentist has a better chance to make a proper diagnosis. The process is quick, as it only requires injury identification as a starting point for treatment.

The dental dye may be a liquid or a thick gel applied across the affected tooth. Your dentist shines a special UV light on the tooth after applying the dye, making it easier to check the exact nature of your crack. Afterward, they can advise on the applicable remedy, including complete tooth removal.

Taking X-Ray Images

Even after identifying the broken or fractured tooth, X-ray injuries may be necessary to determine whether the root and jawbone are also impacted. Taking X-ray images can also help establish if the crack extends to the inner tooth surface, as it may appear superficially on the external part.

Since X-rays display your entire dental structure, the dentist can identify additional issues requiring dental interventions. This way, you acquire prompt treatment and avoid complications.

For example, if the images reveal an impacted wisdom tooth (a molar growing sideways that is yet to erupt from the gums), they can remove it to prevent future discomfort and exposure to cavities on the tooth.

Providing Your Medical History

Giving your dentist details on your medical history can be instrumental in developing a good treatment strategy. Revealing previous dental treatments you have undergone, current conditions you are living with, and your genetic disposition is necessary for various reasons.

For example, if you previously received treatment requiring you to file your teeth, the process may have weakened the enamel significantly. Your tooth fracture and breakage are thus attributable to a previous cause, making it easier to establish a useful remedy. For example, recommending strengthening supplements on top of your dentist's treatment can prevent subsequent breakage.

Additionally, if you live with a condition that weakens your teeth, your dentist can modify your treatment. For example, being low on iron and calcium warrants a diet rich in the two nutrients, so your dentist may recommend additional medication on top of the treatment you receive at the clinic. Similar remedies are available if your teeth are broken or fractured due to a genetic predisposition to rare dental conditions.

Treatment Options Applicable for Fractured or Broken Teeth

After the pre-treatment steps, your dentist identifies suitable treatment options. They vary between patients based on the injury's nature and tooth strength. While your dentist may succeed in restoring the affected tooth, some remedies involve making complete replacements.

Possible treatment options to remedy your case include:

Tooth Removal

If your tooth experiences severe breakage or fractures, it may be less effective and become a health risk. If so, the dentist may recommend complete tooth removal to allow for replacement, as it may be the only way to regain full dental function.

The tooth removal process is often quick and painless, requiring only a few minutes. Your dentist begins by applying local anesthesia to the identified tooth to block nerve pain receptors.

Afterward, they use dental tools to loosen and pull the tooth out, which may cause bleeding. Despite this, they apply cotton gauze to prevent excessive bleeding and bacterial entry. Once the entire root is out, the dentist cleans the exposed area and applies extra gauze to manage the fresh wound.

Fitting a Dental Crown

After tooth removal, the dentist may recommend fitting an artificial dental crown to replace the removed crown. Fitting the crown helps restructure your aesthetics and prevents future infections because the sensitive tooth parts are covered. At the same time, the crown is impervious to bacteria, as it is not a living tissue.

Since crown treatment involves separate dental preparations and expenditures, you can request some time before proceeding. Alternatively, you can undergo the process soon after tooth removal if your dentist approves it. This can be effective if you prefer completing all dental processes within the shortest time possible.

Tooth Bonding

Minor fractures and breakages do not require complete tooth replacements, as the dentist can restore the small crack through bonding. The process involves applying a special bonding component to the crack to close the space.

The bond occurs by making the two tooth surfaces adhere to each other, restoring tooth function. Upon applying the bonding agent, your dentist uses UV light to dry it, which concludes the procedure. They repeat the process if you have more than one broken tooth and may modify the repair method depending on how seriously each tooth has broken or fractured.

Performing a Root Canal

Since a root canal is invasive, your dentist applies anesthesia to the area before beginning to prevent severe pain and discomfort. The root canal process involves clearing the root passageway and removing dead root tissue to prevent severe infections.

Sometimes, the procedure may also require redirecting the root to a suitable position for proper anchorage, especially if it budged to the gum surface after a split root. Upon clearing the root canal passageway, the dentist cleans it and seals the operating area. They will then perform additional procedures like stitching the gums or replacing the tooth pocket to conclude treatment.

Aftercare Tips to Observe

After receiving treatment, you should follow your dentist's aftercare tips to promote a smoother recovery process. The guidelines aim to prevent future injuries and minimize infection risks, so you must follow them as closely as possible. They include:

  • Brushing and flossing at least twice daily.
  • Attending all follow-up schedules.
  • Avoiding sugary foods and beverages.
  • Avoiding hard foods until your dentist clears you.

Contact an Emergency Dentist Near Me

Broken or fractured teeth result in serious injuries to the enamel, which is responsible for performing primary dental functions like chewing and biting. After you or a loved one breaks or fractures their teeth, seek dental assistance immediately to prevent complications. Working with a skilled dental team allows you to fully recover and continue your everyday life.

At Washington Dental, you can access excellent emergency services from a skilled dental team. We are equipped to treat fractured and broken teeth, thanks to our many years of experience. Our team is ready to serve patients who break or fracture their teeth in Lomita, California. For quality dental services to remedy your condition, contact us at 310-326-5183.