My Tooth Broke: What To Do Next

If you’ve ever had a broken tooth, then you know how painful it is. Having a broken tooth is usually not a matter of how careful you are. It’s usually accidental. But even while you may have minimal control of this, having knowledge of broken teeth and what to do after can save you a lot of pain and prevent the situation from escalating further.

Risks Of A Broken Tooth if Not Treated Immediately

Broken teeth need to be treated immediately. The sooner you see a dentist, the better your chances of saving the tooth (depending on the extent of damage). Usually, the damage gets worse with time.

The crack allows bacteria to get to the pulp tissue. Here, it spreads and creates an abscess. With time, a pocket of infected tissue forms. The abscess can be painless or painful. If it is not painful, it can be difficult to notice. However, if you don’t have it treated soon, the infection could spread to neighbouring teeth and other body parts, leading to severe complications.

Types Of Broken Tooth

  • The tooth is fully broken – this is when the tooth is cracked, and the damage has reached the pulp cavity; this is often painful
  • The tooth is chipped – these are tiny cracks or breaks on the enamel. They are rarely serious
  • Tooth fracture – a fracture affects the enamel. However, it might spread to the pulp cavity with time
  • The tooth is knocked out – this is when you hit your tooth, and all of it pops out

Reasons a Tooth Might Break

There are many reasons why your teeth may crack or break. Below are some of the common causes:

  • Eating something hard
  • Facial trauma from an accident
  • Damage from playing sports
  • Untreated cavities
  • Old fillings

What Can You Do?

Tooth Cracks in Half

You will experience a lot of pain. The first thing to do is to take some pain relievers. If you don’t have pain relievers, place an ice pack on the face to ease the pain. These actions will buy you some time to get to a dentist and have the situation corrected.

Cracked (Fractured) Teeth

Unfortunately, there are no home treatments for fractured teeth. When your tooth cracks, you have to see a dentist for treatment. Usually, the tooth may look fine and may only hurt when temperature changes or when you are eating. But if it hurts always, then your nerves might have been damaged; this is a severe symptom.

How will you know your tooth is cracked? Well, if the tooth doesn’t hurt when you bite down on it and only sends a sharp pain coursing through your veins when you stop biting, then your tooth is cracked (1).

Broken Tooth

Again, if your tooth is broken, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will determine the cause of the break. If the reason is a dental cavity, then the nerve is at risk. Damaged nerves require the dentist to perform a root canal.

How to Care for a Chipped or Broken Tooth

First off, if you have a chipped or broken tooth, you should see a dentist immediately. Otherwise, as aforementioned, the damage could get worse through infection, and you end up losing your tooth. But before you get to the dentist, here are some self-care procedures to follow:

If the broken tooth is painful, take some pain relievers like acetaminophen. Later use brine (salt water rinse) to rinse your mouth. This solution will prevent infection and tone down the swelling.

However, if the break leads to a jagged edge, cover it up with sugarless chewing gum or orthodontic wax; this will protect your tongue, lining of the cheeks or lips from damage.

Eat soft foods only. Avoid biting down on the damaged tooth.

broken tooth what to do

What Your Dentist Will Do Depends On The Type Of Break

Minor cracks

These cracks are also known as craze lines. These are surface cracks that affect the enamel. Usually, no treatment is required. But when we notice a minor crack during your dental check-up, we may polish the surface and remove rough spots.

A cracked tooth

This fracture involves the entire crown of the tooth; from the enamel to the pulp cavity. The tooth pieces remain safely secured in the jaw socket. But with time, the crack spreads. This type of damage can possibly be repaired using filling material. The dentist may also install a crown to prevent the tooth crack from becoming worse. If the crack gets to the pulp cavity, you might need a root canal (2).

Chips

Small chips like minor cracks don’t need treatment. However, we suggest repairing the chip with filling material; this prevents the damage from worsening with time and improves the tooth’s aesthetics.

If the chip is super small, then we will polish and smooth out the affected area.

Broken cusp

Such breaks affect the chewing surfaces. This damage rarely affects the pulp and doesn’t cause pain. We can repair a broken cusp to improve dental aesthetics. To do this, we need to install an onlay or a crown.

Serious breaks

Serious breaks affect the pulp cavity and expose the nerve endings. They always cause tooth sensitivity and pain, and often, the broken part bleeds.

The dentist needs to conduct a root canal treatment to get rid of the damaged nerve endings and install a crown to protect the tooth from future infection as well as restore normal tooth function, including eating and chewing.

Split tooth

When a tooth splits, it is divided into two separate bits. Any tooth can sustain such damage but premolars and molars are the most susceptible. During treatment, the dentist may be able to save one root. However, they need to cover it up using a crown.

The process starts with a root canal, followed by the removal of the unwanted roots and finally, the installation of the dental crown (3).

Vertical breaks or split root

These cracks start from the root and work their way up to the cusps. These cracks are quite painful and are usually accompanied by root infection and inflammation. In such a situation, the dentist has to remove the tooth.

Decay-induced break

The tooth breaks as a result of a cavity weakening it from the inside. The dentist evaluates the cavity damage and recommends the best process to restore the tooth. If the damage extends to the jawbone, then they have to remove the tooth.

Now that you know how serious a broken tooth can be, you should always visit a dentist as soon as possible if  you suspect that any of your teeth have broken. Do not procrastinate as it could worsen the situation.

Have You Tried Our Free e-Consultation Service?

If you are worried about a dental related issue, interested in travelling to Malta for a dental holiday or have questions about any of the treatments we offer, please contact us using our new free e-Consultation service. One of our highly-qualified team will respond to your query as soon as possible. Our e-Consultation service is live 9am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

If you would like to schedule an in-person consultation at Savina Dental, please book your appointment using this form.

Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.