How to Fix a Broken Tooth
Dental Emergencies

How to Fix a Broken Tooth

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A chipped, cracked or loose tooth is more than a cosmetic issue

5 minute read

Your teeth are the strongest part of your body, but they're still vulnerable to damage from accidental injuries and long-term wear and tear. Ignoring a broken tooth can lead to many long-term problems.

Whether a tooth has minor damage or is knocked out completely, it's important to see a dentist as soon as possible. They will examine your mouth and explain your treatment options to repair the damage and restore the health and appearance of your smile.

If you need an emergency dentist in Perth, call EVP Dental on (08) 9470 3944 for urgent care advice over the phone and to book an appointment at our East Victoria Park clinic.

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When can a tooth break?

When can a tooth break?

Teeth can be damaged in many ways. This may happen suddenly with an accidental injury or over a long period of time as a tooth is weakened and wears down. The most common causes of a broken tooth are: 

  • sporting injuries (especially when not using a mouthguard)
  • biting something hard
  • falls or other impacts to the mouth
  • tooth decay forming cavities
  • advanced gum disease (periodontitis)
  • teeth grinding (bruxism) or jaw clenching

A broken tooth can cause pain and discomfort and may affect how you eat, which can impact on your nutrition and overall health. There's also a risk of further injury or infection if damage isn't treated promptly.

A broken tooth may not always show visible signs of damage. If you have pain or other possible signs of a dental injury, contact an emergency dentist today.

Types of dental injuries

Types of tooth injuries

Dental injuries may affect one tooth or multiple teeth, along with other parts of the mouth and jaw. Your dentist's treatment recommendations will be based on the type of damage you have.

Chipped tooth

If a piece of your tooth has broken off, this could make it painful or difficult to eat and affect your bite (how your teeth come together). A sharp or rough edge from a chipped tooth can also cause injury or discomfort in your mouth, while internal damage can leave the tooth vulnerable to infection.

Dentists use fillings, crowns and other restorations to restore the shape, function and appearance of a chipped tooth.

Cracked or fractured tooth

Cracks in teeth are not always visible, but even a minor crack can weaken a tooth and make further damage more likely.

Dentists can seal small cracks in teeth using composite restorations, but larger cracks may need to be covered by a ceramic crown. If a crack reaches the centre of the tooth, this will require root canal therapy to treat or prevent infection.

Shifted tooth

Impacts to the mouth may push teeth into the gum or out of their normal alignment. If you can see a dentist quickly, they may be able to stabilise the tooth in its original position using a temporary splint, or it may require longer-term orthodontic treatment.

Loose tooth

If a tooth feels loose after an injury, it may not function properly and may be at high risk of infection or falling out. The sooner you see a dentist, the greater the chance the damage can be repaired and the tooth can be saved.

Knocked out tooth

If a tooth is knocked out completely, or too badly damaged to repair, your dentist will recommend replacing it with a dental implant, bridge or partial denture to avoid problems associated with a missing tooth.

In some cases, dentists may be able to reattach a knocked-out tooth that's still intact. This depends on the condition of the tooth and how quickly you can see an emergency dentist. Children's baby teeth should not be reattached, as this can affect the permanent tooth growing beneath.

Read our blog, while you wait for an appointment.

How To Preserve a Broken Tooth

Treatment options for a broken tooth

Some treatment options to restore a broken tooth

When you visit the dentist after a dental injury, they will examine the damaged tooth and your mouth, which will usually involve taking an x-ray to see what is happening underneath the gums and around the jawbone. They will then be able to recommend treatments to address any immediate problems and longer-term concerns.

Composite fillings

Fillings seal holes and gaps in teeth to restore their lost structure and prevent damage from worsening. Placing a filling is a quick and usually painless procedure that can be completed in a single appointment.

Most fillings placed today are white fillings made from a composite resin that can be adjusted to blend in with the surrounding tooth colour.

Inlays or onlays

If a cavity or other damage covers a larger area of the tooth, your dentist may recommend a larger type of filling  such as an inlay or onlay. These are custom made from tooth-coloured porcelain or other materials and bonded to the tooth.

Inlays are used to repair damage between the cusps (tips) of a tooth. Onlays are larger restorations that may replace all or part of the cusps.

Dental crown

A dental crown is a custom-made restoration that restores the shape and appearance of a chipped tooth. A crown may also be placed over a cracked or weakened tooth for strength and protection.

Crowns may be made from porcelain, gold alloy or zirconia. Porcelain crowns or metal crowns with a porcelain outer layer will be matched to the surrounding tooth shade for natural-looking results. Designing, manufacturing and placing a crown can involve a couple of visits to the dental clinic.

Root canal therapy

If damage reaches the centre of the tooth, or the tooth shows signs of infection, your dentist will recommend a root canal treatment before restoring the tooth with a crown.

Root canal therapy is a common dental procedure that involves removing the infected tissue inside the tooth (the pulp), cleaning the area and replacing it with a sterile filling material. This may involve more than one visit, depending on the size of the tooth being treated.

Replacing a lost tooth

If a tooth has been knocked out, or is too badly damaged to repair with a root canal procedure or crown, your dentist will recommend replacing it with a prosthetic tooth. Replacing a lost tooth can prevent problems in the long term by allowing you to eat normally and supporting the surrounding teeth.

The options for teeth replacement are a dental implant, dental bridge or partial denture. Your dentist will explain what each treatment involves so you can decide what's best for your needs and your price range.

The cost of a 3-unit dental bridge starts from $3,000 and a single dental implant from $4,250.

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Restoring diseased gums

If gum disease isn't treated in its early stage (gingivitis), it can develop into more severe periodontitis. This can damage the structures supporting the teeth in the jaw, causing teeth and surrounding bone to become damaged and leading to tooth and bone loss.

Gum disease treatment involves deep cleaning of the gum to removing the infection. In some cases, this may also involve minor surgery or gum grafting to restore and protect the gum and the teeth beneath.

How to prevent tooth damage

Hoe to prevent tooth damage

Injuries to teeth can't always be avoided, but you could reduce their severity and lower your risk of needing emergency dental treatment by taking good preventive care.

Oral hygiene care

Regular brushing and flossing, a healthy diet and a six-monthly check-up and clean with your dentist will help to keep your teeth and gums healthy and more resistant to damage and infection.

This includes avoiding bad habits like biting fingernails, crunching ice cubes and opening packaging or bottle caps with your teeth that increase the risk of damage.

Sports mouthguard

If you or your child are playing contact sports or other activities that involve a risk of injury to the mouth or face, wearing a mouthguard will help to protect your teeth from serious injuries by absorbing and spreading the impact from a collision.

A custom mouthguard made by a dentist that perfectly fits the contours of your teeth and gums offers more protection and comfort than a store-bought mouthguard. Mouthguards need to be checked replaced periodically to maintain the correct fit.

Many private health funds offer policies with dental cover that include a gap-free custom mouthguard. Ask your private health fund provider for rebate information.

Bruxism treatment

If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw during sleep, you might not be aware of it, but your dentist can spot the signs of bruxism on your teeth and tongue and discuss treatments to prevent the damage from worsening.

Depending on what's causing bruxism, treatments may include therapy to reduce stress or anxiety, orthodontics to straighten misaligned teeth or wearing a bruxism night guard to prevent teeth grinding in sleep.

Teeth straightening treatment

Orthodontic issues such as misaligned or protruding teeth may increase the risk of tooth damage. Teeth straightening using braces or Invisalign clear aligners can bring teeth into better alignment to lower these risks.

Orthodontics is a long-term treatment that can take anywhere from several months to several years, depending on how much straightening is needed to correct a misalignment

The cost of teeth straightening treatment starts from $4000 for conventional braces and $6000 for Invisalign clear aligners.

Talk to an emergency dentist in East Victoria Park

If you have a broken tooth or another dental injury, delaying treatment could make the problem worse. Call EVP Dental on (08) 9470 3944 as soon as possible. We'll book you a priority appointment with our dentists and we can give you advice about managing your immediate symptoms over the phone.

Our emergency dental clinic in East Victoria Park is located just 7 minutes from Perth CBD and easily accessible from Perth's Southern and Eastern suburbs.

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References

  1. https://www.teeth.org.au/dental-trauma
  2. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/dental-injury