Teeth are incredibly strong, and they can withstand extreme pressure when chewing or clenching. However, impact to a tooth can chip, crack, break or dislodge it when there is enough force. Sports injuries, vehicle accidents, falls and other causes of trauma to the mouth can result in a damaged tooth. While all damaged teeth should be repaired by a dentist, not all tooth injuries require urgent dental care. Here is what you need to know about broken teeth and when to seek emergency dental treatment.
Chipped or Cracked Teeth
The most common injury to teeth is a chip. This occurs when a small portion of the tooth breaks off, usually on the top of the tooth. A front tooth can be chipped in a fall or when the tooth is hit by a flying object. Most chipped teeth do not pose an emergency, but it should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent decay or other dental problems.
Cracks in teeth can be caused by impact, but are commonly caused by biting down on a hard item. Most small cracks do not cause pain right away, but they should be repaired to prevent further damage or disease to the tooth. Deep cracks may cause pain and pose a risk of infection, which may require urgent dental care. The worst type of tooth crack affects the root below the gum line. When deep root cracks occur, a tooth extraction may be necessary.
Treatments for Chipped Teeth
Fixing a chipped tooth can usually be completed in one office visit. Most patients do not have pain from chipped teeth – there may be some sensitivity to cold or hot, but not necessarily. Since the enamel may be gone, it is important to repair the chip to reduce the risk of decay into the dentin of the tooth.
Dental bonding is a common option for repairing a chipped tooth, especially with front teeth. Composite resin can be formed to fill the missing tooth material. Once the resin is hardened and polished, it blends with the surrounding tooth to look natural.
For some chipped teeth, fillings may be used. Just like bonding, tooth-colored composite can be used to keep the tooth white and appearing natural.
Treatments for Cracked Teeth
Cracked teeth can require immediate dental care if it is a severe crack. You will want the tooth examined to determine the best treatment to protect the tooth or your health. Cracked teeth are susceptible to further damage, infection or loss if treatment is not performed quickly. Treatments for cracked teeth depend on the severity of the crack and its location, which may include:
- Tooth-colored fillings
- Porcelain inlays or onlays
- Porcelain crowns
- Root canal therapy if there is infection
- Tooth extraction if the tooth cannot be saved
Tooth removal for cracked teeth is rare, but if needed, we offer a variety of tooth restoration options using advanced dental implants.
Broken or Dislodged Teeth
When a large portion of a tooth is broken off, or the tooth is loose or completely removed, you should seek emergency dental care. Trauma to the face can cause serious damage to the tooth and surrounding tissues. While an emergency room can provide care for a broken arm or lacerated face, broken or dislodged teeth need the specialized care of a dentist.
Broken teeth pose a risk for further damage to the tooth, which could result in more pieces of the tooth lost. This can pose a choking risk, especially in children. The tooth should be examined right away to determine the best course of treatment. Most broken teeth can be saved, especially if you visit an emergency dentist shortly after the injury.
When a tooth is bleeding, loose or dislodged, this is an emergency dental situation. A dentist can evaluate the tooth and perform the needed imaging to determine the best options. In many cases, even a completely dislodged tooth can be saved if you see a dentist right away. If a tooth is knocked out, follow these steps before calling our office:
- Bite down on a clean cloth or gauze to stop the bleeding
- Find the tooth, grab by the crown and carefully rinse it off under water if it is dirty
- Insert the tooth back into the open socket, if possible
- If you cannot insert the tooth, store it in salvia, pasteurized milk, saline water, coconut water, green tea or egg white in a sealed, sanitized container. You need to bring the tooth to the dentist to determine if the tooth can be salvaged.
Call our emergency dentist for an immediate appointment – we can often accommodate same-day emergency patients. Most dislodged teeth need to be treated within a few hours for an opportunity to save the tooth. If our office is not open, you should seek emergency medical care for dislodged teeth, then book an urgent dentist appointment as soon as possible.
Broken Teeth Treatments
A broken tooth almost always will need a dental crown if it can be saved. A dental crown fits over the existing tooth, but the outside of the tooth will need to be removed to make room for the crown or “cap.” Our dentist will carefully examine the broken tooth and x-rays will be taken to check for internal damage. If the tooth can be saved, we will numb the tooth and begin preparing it for a crown.
Dental crowns require at least two appointments. We will need to make an impression of the tooth to make both a temporary and permanent crown. Most patients prefer porcelain crowns, especially for front teeth. Our dental team will make the temporary crown in our office and apply it to the tooth. Once the permanent crown arrives from the dental lab, we will remove the temporary crown and bond the permanent crown in place over your broken tooth.
Dislodged Tooth Treatment
Saving a knocked out or dislodged tooth can require a few different steps. If you are able to reinsert it into the socket before you arrive to our office, we will begin examining the socket, tooth and internal structures to determine the best treatment. If you bring the tooth with you, we will reinsert the tooth and ensure it is placed correctly.
Many dislodged teeth still have living tissue that can regenerate and attach to the oral tissues and bone again. A splint can be used to hold the tooth in place while it heals, but most dislodged teeth will require a root canal to protect them against infection. Our dental team can monitor the tooth’s progress to give it the best chance of survival once it heals.
If the tooth cannot be reinserted or the procedure does not save the tooth, we can help you replace your lost tooth. Our dentists can remove any broken material from the socket to allow it to heal correctly. We are dental implant specialists that can offer a variety of options for replacing lost teeth.
At Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta, we offer emergency dentistry services and repairs for severely cracked or broken teeth. We can usually see you the same day if you need an emergency dental appointment for a broken or dislodged tooth. Call us immediately if you need urgent dental care – we will always do our best to see right away.