Accidents happen. Even if you do your best to prevent them, time and time again, fate has a way of intervening. Maybe it’s slipping on an icy sidewalk or slipping a step. Perhaps you’re playing catch with your son, and the ball tips off your glove into your mouth, or a very animated individual’s arm catches your teeth while standing at the traffic light. You might even bring a glass of water up to your mouth too fast and catch a tooth in the act. Whatever the case might be, dental accidents happen, just like any other accident.
But what happens if that dental accident involves breaking a tooth? This isn’t a tiny chip of the tooth but instead a complete break. If you’ve ever found yourself in such a situation or are simply wondering what to do if your tooth breaks, here are the steps you need to follow as quickly as possible.
Attention To The Wound
Before anything, you must give attention to the wounded tooth and gums. In order for part of your tooth to fully break off, the area of your mouth will have gone through extreme trauma. In order to prevent further damage to surrounding teeth, including teeth sliding into the fresh gap, you need to address the wound before doing anything else.
First, you’ll want to clean your mouth out. Do this by swirling warm water in your mouth and spitting it out. Try to remove as much blood as possible. The wound may still be bleeding, so just water isn’t going to stop it, but by swirling water, you will at least clean out blood that might be lodged elsewhere. Avoid harsh chemicals or other medical ointments you might use on an external injury. Anything you put on an oral injury will likely end up in your stomach, which can cause other problems. So stick to water.
Now, you’ll need to use gauze and pack in the injury. This will help stabilize the area as well as absorb blood. Now, when you break a tooth, you’re not going to have the time to go shopping for gauze and make all kinds of stops along the way. You need to dress the wound quickly and head out to an emergency dentist. So, if you don’t have gauze on hand, you can use a wet tea bag instead. This will fit into the gap left by the broken tooth. It also helps hold some moisture as well.
Sometimes broken teeth can be incredibly sharp. You don’t want to gash up your tongue on the busted tooth. If the gauze doesn’t stay in place, you can actually use sugarless gum. Chew up the gum (using non-busted teeth) and place the gum over the broken tooth. This, at the very least, will keep your tongue from slicing itself up.
Protect The Tooth
If you’re lucky enough to have the piece of the tooth that broke off, you will want to keep it safe. You can place it into a small container of milk. A saline solution will work as well if you have it on hand. But, if not, milk is just fine. The calcium in the milk will help protect the broken tooth.
In some instances, it may be possible for the dentist to place the broken part of the tooth back into position. Other times you might need another treatment, but it’s nice to have possible options.
Contact Your Dentist
Tell the dental office precisely what happened. Some broken teeth are severe, and you will need to have the tooth looked at immediately. Other times it is okay if you don’t make it in until the next day. You will be given more information on the next step when you contact the dental office.
For minor issues, a dental office is the way to go. However, if a major chunk of the tooth broke off and the internal root canal is exposed, or if the tooth didn’t just break off but is cracked as well, you will instead want to see an endodontist for treatment.
Endodontists specialize in the internal health of a tooth and will have more technology and experience in treating your specific situation.
If you don’t even want to change it and would rather see an endodontist immediately, the staff at Southern Endodontic Specialists will see you and go through all possible treatment options.
Once you are in the dental or endodontist’s office, you will have a few options at your disposal (typically, although it can depend on the severity of the break as well as which tooth suffered the damage). If you were able to find the remains of the tooth, it might be possible to secure the broken bit back into position. If not, don’t worry; there are other options.
Dental bonding and fillings are good options for small breaks. Perhaps it is closer to a chip than a break, and a smaller portion of the tooth experienced damage during the injury. If that is the case, it is possible to treat the condition similar to a cavity, in which the area will be cleared, and a replacement will be secured using dental bonding.
On the other hand, if the break is more significant, there are other options to consider. Caps might be the way to go here. A cap will fit over the current tooth but with the original height of your old tooth. Caps can be useful when dealing with side teeth that might break or experience this kind of damage. If the break takes place on a front tooth, a veneer may be the way to go. Your dental professional will provide you with the answers you need to make the best possible decision regarding your repair.
Contact a Specialist Today
If you suffered a dental break or you have other internal tooth issues, now is the time to contact the specialists at Southern Endodontic Specialists.