Breaking a tooth can be both painful and scary. Whether your tooth cracks in half while eating an apple or you chip it after a slip-and-fall accident, these types of dental emergencies can happen suddenly and without warning. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize damage and improve the chances of a positive outcome.
Assess the Situation
If you damage a tooth, you will need to contact your dentist as soon as possible. However, the urgency of the situation varies depending on the circumstances. For example, you should drop everything and see your dentist right away if you knock out a permanent tooth, but a cracked tooth or lost crown may be less pressing so long as it is not causing severe pain or swelling. If you suffer excessive bleeding that will not stop, visit an emergency dentist right away.
While you are awaiting treatment, rinse your mouth with warm salt water and apply pressure using gauze or a tea back for several months to stop any bleeding. Use a cold pack to minimize pain and swelling. You can also take an over-the-counter pain medication if indicated.
You should not treat a cracked, broken, or dislodged tooth at home. Instead, you must see your dentist to potentially save the tooth and prevent the possibility of infection. Minor chips and cracks may be successfully repaired with filling material. If the cusp of the tooth is broken, but the nerve is not in danger, an onlay or crown may be used to restore its shape.
When a tooth is broken in half, exposing the nerve or putting it in danger, you will need a root canal and crown to save the tooth, prevent infection, and restore its functionality and shape. In severe cases where even the tooth root is damaged or dislodged, the tooth may be incapable of being saved. Fortunately, there are many dental solutions, such as dental implants and bridges, that can restore the appearance of your smile, as well as its functionality.
Steps to Preventing Future Tooth Damage
Some types of tooth damage are unavoidable. However, there are steps you can take to reduce the chance of breakage in the future. One of the most common causes of damage, for example, is tooth decay. When a tooth is allowed to deteriorate, its structural integrity becomes weak. Eventually, even a minor impact can cause irreparable damage, resulting in the loss of the tooth. You can prevent tooth decay by practicing good brushing and flossing habits, as well as visiting your Katy dentist for regular cleanings and exams.
Read more about how to brush and how to floss your teeth.
If you or your child participates in high-impact activities, be sure to wear a properly fitted mouth guard to help protect against damage. We also recommend seeing your Houston dentist if you find yourself grinding your teeth at night or excessively clenching them – perhaps due to stress. This puts pressure on the teeth, which may make them more susceptible to cracks and damage.