Dental Procedures. A broken tooth does not only cause oral problems but also breaks your confidence. Even though your teeth’s enamel is the hardest and most mineralized tissue in your body, it has its limits. Some of the most common reasons for a broken, chipped, or damaged tooth is eating hard food like candy or ice, accidents causing tooth injury, teeth grinding, or cavities. Also, if a tooth is already decayed, or the root canal is weak, it is more likely to chip or break.
If you find out that you have a broken or chipped tooth, there is no need to panic. The good news is that broken, cracked, or chipped teeth can be fixed. There are several dental procedures that can assist in fixing it and bringing back your beautiful smile.
Cracked teeth are not usually accompanied by symptoms. However here are some symptoms that you might notice –
- Pain while eating or chewing
- Sensitivity to cold and hot foods
- Swollen gums around the chipped tooth
Types of Cracked or Broken Teeth
Craze Lines –
- These are very small cracks that only impact the enamel on the outside and do not extend to the gums. Adults frequently have craze lines. They’re superficial, don’t hurt, and aren’t worth worrying about besides their appearance, which is also a very faint vertical line.
Fractured Cusps –
- When a piece of the tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, it is called a fractured cusp. It frequently occurs in teeth with large fillings. There may be no pain, but it may be sensitive to temperature. Although the crack may extend to the gum line or below, the pulp of the tooth is rarely harmed (where the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue are located). In case the pulp is exposed, it may require a root canal. However, depending on the case, it can also be treated with a filling or a crown. The tooth can usually be saved in most cases.
Cracked Tooth –
- A cracked tooth is one in which a crack runs vertically from the chewing surface to the root. Early detection is critical in order to save the tooth. A cracked tooth that is not addressed can worsen over time and may end in tooth loss. It is critical to seek treatment for cracked teeth as soon as possible. Root canal therapy is often the most sought-after treatment and a necessity.
Split Teeth –
- This is a severe tooth crack condition when the tooth actually splits into two. Saving this tooth is nearly impossible and extraction is the most common method used. However, if the tooth is a molar, the damaged/cracked/broken part can be extracted and the other part of the tooth can be saved via a root canal.
Vertical Root Fracture –
- These cracks start at the tooth’s root and extend to the chewing surface. They frequently exhibit only minor indications and symptoms. They’re usually detected when the bone and gums around them become inflamed. They are normally extracted unless the dentist can save them by extracting the fractured root only. These kinds of fractures are very common in teeth that have previously been treated for a root canal.
The procedure and treatment to fix a cracked tooth are determined by the type, location, and degree of the fracture.
Cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is widely used in the diagnosis of root fractures in cases of cracked teeth. CBCT helps identify if the tooth can be classified as treatable or untreatable. If CBCT shows that the tooth crack is a fractured cusp or is within the crown, the tooth can be saved. If the crack has progressed and reached beyond the cementoenamel junction (CEJ – a place or a border that divides the crown and root surface) or has reached the root is hard to save.
Not only this, but CBCT also helps identify micro-cracks that might otherwise go undetected and therefore, not receive the right treatment at the right time.
For a cracked tooth, there are several dental procedures or treatment options:
Dental Filling or Bonding:
- If only a little portion of your tooth enamel has been chipped, your dentist may be able to restore the damage with a filling. If the damage is on a front tooth or visible when you smile, your dentist will most likely use a tooth-colored composite resin in a process called bonding. Bonding is a simple treatment that does not usually require anesthesia. Composite bonding can last up to ten years.
- When a large piece of your tooth has broken, the dentist will recommend a crown or a cap. It can cover the entire portion that has been affected. Crowns can be made from metal, porcelain fused to metal, all resin or ceramic. But metal ones are the strongest. Crowns are thicker than veneers and can restore the appearance of the tooth. In this procedure, the dentist or the endodontist will have to numb the area to remove the remaining tooth to make space for the crown to be placed. This may typically require 2 visits.
- The front of the tooth is covered with a thin layer of porcelain or plastic. When you still have a lot of your natural tooth surface left, Dental veneers are a popular option. The most popular restorative treatment for improving your smile (provided the tooth is not completely broken). To prepare the tooth for the veneer, your dentist will use a solvent to roughen the surface. After that, the dentist will apply a specific cement to the veneer before placing it on the prepared tooth. A special light is then used to activate chemicals in the cement, causing it to set quickly after the veneer is in place.
Root Canal Therapy:
- When a fracture extends to the pulp, root canal therapy is the best treatment option. Yes, a root canal can be used to treat a tooth that has developed a break that has reached the pulp. The dead pulp is removed, the root canal is cleaned, and the root canal is finally sealed. A crown can be inserted following the root canal to prevent the crack from widening. A root canal can be painful, however, technological advancements in dentistry have made it possible to minimize pain by means of laser-assisted root canal therapy.
- If you have a fracture in your tooth that goes past the gum line, it is no longer recoverable and the tooth will need to be extracted. To replace your natural tooth, you can opt for a dental implant. Dental implants are used to replace lost teeth. They serve as the new root for your tooth and are secured in your jawbone for a long-term fit.
You should see a dentist immediately if you have a cracked or fractured tooth. Early detection can avoid further damage and infection. You might even be able to save your tooth.