Treatments for Cracked or Broken Teeth

Have you ever cracked or broken a tooth? If so, you know that this kind of damage can be a major pain – literally! So how can your dentist repair a cracked or broken tooth? Allen Daniels, DDS, of Bright Dental in Bright, Indiana, knows a thing or two about repairing damaged teeth. Here Dr. Daniels discusses treatment options for cracked or broken teeth and talks about the advantages of each.

Whether due to decay or injury, cracking or breaking a tooth should be considered a dental emergency. Because cracked or broken teeth can become painful quickly, it’s important to see a dentist right away for treatment. Even if the damage seems minor initially, a cracked or broken tooth is at risk for sustaining further damage or decay. Depending on the severity of the damage to your tooth, your dentist will likely repair it in one of the following two ways — either dental bonding or crowns.

1. Dental Bonding

In the case of a minor crack or chip that does not affect the tooth’s root, it may be possible for your dentist to repair the damage using a special bonding technique. Dental bonding involves using a tooth-colored resin material to fill a crack, repair a chip or restore a tooth to its original shape.

The bonding process starts with selecting the right color of resin to match your teeth. Then your dentist will “roughen” the surface of the tooth and apply a special liquid to help the resin adhere. The resin, which is putty-like in texture, is then applied and molded into the desired shape. Once the resin has been shaped and smoothed, a special light is used (either a laser or an ultraviolet light) to harden the material. After the resin has hardened, your dentist will polish it until it matches the sheen of the surrounding teeth.

Dental bonding to repair cracks and chips is virtually painless and is therefore normally performed without anesthesia. Bonding normally takes 30 to 60 minutes per tooth to complete. In addition to repairing cracks and chips, dental bonding is also sometimes used in cosmetic procedures. Bonding can be used to close gaps between teeth, to make teeth appear longer, to correct misshapen teeth and to improve the appearance of severely discolored teeth. Bonding is relatively inexpensive compared to other treatment options.

2. Crowns

If you’ve experienced a more seriously cracked or broken tooth, your dentist will need to use a restoration to completely cover the tooth’s surface. Most likely, that restoration will be a crown (also called a cap).  A crown can relieve the pain of a damaged tooth, protect the tooth from further damage or decay, and restore your bite strength.

Most of the time, a crown will involve two trips to the dentist. At your first visit, your dentist will numb the area and prepare the tooth for the crown by removing the broken portion and any underlying decay. Then, an impression will be taken from which the permanent crown will be made. A temporary crown will be put into place until your next appointment. The crown itself may be made from either metal, porcelain or a composite material. Although many patients opt for tooth-colored crowns made of porcelain or composite, gold is actually the most biocompatible option. Once your crown has been custom-made from the impression of your prepared tooth, you will return to your dentist’s office. At this appointment, your temporary crown will be removed and the permanent one will be cemented into place.

Although no restoration is perfect, crowns are effective at repairing serious damage and preventing further damage from occurring. Today’s porcelain and composite crowns are virtually indistinguishable from your natural teeth, and all types of crowns are extremely strong.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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