What to Do if You Break a Tooth

Perhaps you bit down just a little too hard on that bagel; or maybe you managed to injure yourself while playing spots. No matter what the circumstances might be, one thing’s for sure: A broken tooth is certainly no fun.

If you’re the type of person who tends to get alarmed in situations like these, then try to take a step back and relax. A broken tooth is not exactly fatal, and while it can certainly constitute a significant inconvenience, things might not be as bad as they seem – provided, of course, that you go see your dentist right away.

Dr. Joseph Pizzarello is a dentist at Pizzarello and Silvestro Family Dentistry, a practice that has been serving the Stoneham, Massachusetts area since 1995, and according to him, a broken tooth is not something that should ever be neglected. However, it is important to realize the difference between a chipped tooth and a broken tooth.

If you chip your tooth, then this means that you’ve taken out a portion of its enamel, which is the hard outer coating. A chipped tooth, though perhaps not aesthetically pleasing, is not actually a dental emergency. While you shouldn’t necessarily put off having it looked at, there’s also no reason to call your dentist in a state of panic or drop everything to rush directly to his office. A chipped tooth might not even cause you any discomfort, and with any luck, your dentist will be able to fix the issue by filing the tooth down or using some other method of cosmetic restoration. As long as you proceed with a bit of caution with respect to your chipped tooth, you should be able to walk away from the situation relatively unscathed.

A broken tooth, on the other hand, is a far more serious matter that will require you to see your dentist right away. A broken tooth means that you’ve managed to expose the tooth’s dentin, which is what the enamel protects (though a deep enough break could cause exposure all the way down to the tooth’s nerve center, the pulp). The more significant the tooth fracture is, the more pain you are likely to find yourself in, which is why it’s important to never put off dealing with a broken tooth. Most dentists will consider a broken tooth to be a true emergency and will therefore do their best to squeeze you into their schedules right away.

The reason why you should never ignore a broken tooth is twofold. First, a tooth fracture can be anywhere from mildly to exceptionally painful; so the sooner you get treatment, the sooner you can start to heal. Second, by putting off treatment, you could end up worsening your situation. A neglected tooth fracture can often result in a root canal or in the loss of the affected tooth in question. To avoid your share of costly and time-consuming dental treatments, get in touch with your dentist as soon as you realize that you’ve indeed managed to break a tooth. Additionally, if you fracture your tooth and are able to locate the piece that has broken off, then make certain to bring it with you when you visit your dentist for treatment. If your dentist has certain technologies such as CEREC available, then he might be able to use the missing piece of tooth to create a natural-looking crown.

Breaking a tooth is never fun, but if it happens to you, then you’ll need to make it your business to seek out treatment as soon as possible. Remember, if you see your dentist right away, then the aftermath of your injury might not be that bad; but if you ignore the problem, then you’re all the more likely to turn a minor inconvenience into a major dental disaster.

*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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