How to fix a broken tooth

young man with a teeth broken and rotten

A broken tooth is something we all have to deal with at some point. If it’s not our own teeth that break or chip on something hard, or in a sporting accident, then it could be a child or friend who has a broken tooth emergency. Loock Dental can explain what to do to repair your smile.

While slightly broken, cracked or chipped tooth enamel might not be a dental emergency, it can be extremely irritating to have a sharp or jagged edge in your mouth. If the broken tooth is visible, then it is something you want to fix quickly so you continue to look good for professional and personal reasons. Broken or cracked teeth can also become sensitive and painful if not treated properly.

If there is any pain or bleeding of the gums as well, or the tooth is loose or badly broken, then this is a dental emergency, and it is important to visit your dentist sooner rather than later, in case the tooth root, jaw bone, or the living tissue inside the tooth have been broken, damaged or exposed. You may need urgent treatment to save the remaining tooth or teeth or to repair your jaw and gums.

Broken or chipped teeth can also be a sign of teeth grinding or jaw clenching in your sleep or while concentrating deeply. You can read about why you need to get this problem diagnosed and treated by your dentist here.

What can you do at home to fix a broken tooth?

You should book an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible, especially if there is any pain or bleeding. While you are waiting to see your dentist, there are some things you can do at home:

1. Take any over-the-counter pain medication you need and are able to use safely, in order to relieve any pain.

2. If the broken tooth has a sharp edge that is irritating you or snagging on your mouth, you can cover it with some sugar-free chewing gum or natural wax (such as soy or bee’s wax) until you can get it fixed. Just remember to avoid leaving it in your mouth overnight or if you take a nap.

3. Maintain excellent oral hygiene while you wait to have your broken tooth repaired.

What you should avoid doing at home to fix broken teeth

Please do not attempt to sandpaper or file your tooth smooth on your own, as you could further damage it. Also never use superglue or any other DIY hardware items to attempt to repair the broken tooth yourself, even if it is an artificial crown. Glues can be toxic if swallowed and can harm your skin and gums. If a part of a tooth is not completely clean, or not accurately reattached, bacteria will be trapped in the join and cause decay and infection, possibly leading to a root canal treatment.

Do I need to replace a broken dental crown if it is hidden?

Dental crowns do not last a lifetime, but if they do fall or break off, you must visit your dentist to get them properly replaced. It is possible that there is too little of the underlying tooth left, due to damage or decay, to support the crown (this could even be the cause of the break in the first place). Any underlying infection or tooth decay would need to be treated quickly.

Crowns are placed in such a way that they form a tight seal over the edges of the tooth underneath, and if this seal is broken, infection of the unprotected tooth leads to the risk of losing the tooth altogether.

It is far better to get the crown repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Talk to your dentist at Loock Dental about our CEREC machine, which offers computer-engineered crowns, made quickly at the practice.

Can a broken tooth repair itself naturally?

Unfortunately, your teeth cannot repair their enamel on their own, and broken teeth do not heal and grow back naturally, the way a broken bone or broken skin can. Your tooth’s stem cells can produce small amounts of dentin tissue to repair tiny cracks in the dentin layer under the enamel from the inside, but there are major limitations to this, and the hard enamel outside the tooth, which is usually what you notice a break or chip in, does not self-heal or repair on its own.

While future  research may possibly provide ways in which parts of the teeth could be stimulated to heal themselves naturally, this is not something we are able to do yet. You will need to visit your dentist to get a cosmetic or medically necessary repair as soon after the break occurs as possible (for painful or completely knocked out teeth, this should be seen to immediately as an emergency appointment).

A broken tooth doesn’t need to get you down. Your dentist will be able to repair the damage and help you smile with confidence again.

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Marguerite MacRobert

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