Focus on: Fractured teeth

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New toys, trampolines or just kids being kids can lead to a broken or chipped tooth over the holiday period. If you or your child chips or knocks out a tooth, click here for emergency information and details of what to do to minimise the trauma. However, it is not just accidents that can cause teeth to chip, fracture or break. It is not uncommon for adults to experience a fractured or broken tooth, particularly in teeth that have had fillings or in adults that grind or clench. These fractures are often less obvious than the ones caused by accidents, however they can cause ongoing problems and inconvenience especially as they often occur unexpectedly and at the worst time like a weekend or holiday period.
How will I know if I have a fractured tooth?
You will know if your tooth breaks severely enough to expose the sensitive inner layer or nerve of your tooth – it will hurt! The pain however may come and go. It may be sensitive to hot, cold, sweet or acidic foods and drinks. It might be uncomfortable when you bite or it might be sensitive when brushed or exposed to air. You may also feel the broken edge or a piece missing with your tongue. If you experience any of these unfortunate events please call us and we will immediately start the process of repairing your tooth. Many fractured teeth however, do not hurt at first. Fine, hairline fractures often go unnoticed. Fractures in teeth however, are not like fractures in bones – they do not heal over time. Over time, the bacteria in plaque can get into the tooth via the fracture line and cause decay or even irreversible inflammation of the nerve of your tooth leading to a toothache. The fracture may also suddenly give way when eating which often happens at the worst possible time like the start of a weekend or public holiday!
How can my fractured tooth be treated?
There are many different types of tooth fractures. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location and extent of the fracture.Treatment might involve the placement of a filling or often a crown for the best long term treatment. It might also require a root canal treatment and in very unfortunate cases, removal of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment is important in saving these teeth.
After treatment for a fractured tooth, will my tooth completely heal?
Unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a tooth will not heal. Placement of a crown on a fractured tooth provides maximum protection but in spite of treatment, some fractures may continue to separate or cause symptoms, particularly those that have been left untreated for some time.The treatment you receive for your fractured tooth is important because it will relieve pain and reduce the likelihood that the fracture will worsen. Once treated, most fractured teeth continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing.
What can I do to prevent my teeth from fracturing?
While fractured teeth are not completely preventable, you can make your teeth less prone to breakage:
  1. Don’t chew hard items like pens or hard foods like ice, pork crackling or lollies. Be careful of pits in olives and un-popped pieces of corn in popcorn.
  2. If you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep, talk to your dentist about a protective guard to protect your teeth
  3. Wear a mouthguard when playing sport
  4. See your Medland Dental Dentist every six months so that fractures or fracture inducing problems can be detected early