February 3, 2010

Common Causes of a Broken Tooth

In spite of how durable teeth can be, they are prone to chip or break from time to time and may even be knocked out of the mouth.  You may break a tooth in a number of ways. Those who take part in contact sports such as hockey or football are at risk for the kinds of bodily impacts that often lead to a broken tooth.  A broken tooth may also result from chance actions such as a fall or a car crash.

Eating hard foods is another common way that teeth get broken.  While no preventive measure can wholly protect a person from breaking a tooth, a number of things can help to lower one’s chances of a dental emergency.

Dental Emergency Prevention

Mishaps such as car crashes or slips and falls are hard to avoid.  It can help to wear a seatbelt every time you ride in a car. Other steps can also help protect you from risky actions that put you at risk of a broken tooth.

If you play a contact sport, be sure to wear a mouth guard to protect both your teeth and jaw. Avoid chewing on things such as bones, stale foods, and ice, and limit your intake of hard candies.

The strength of your teeth depends in large part on your dental hygiene. Teeth that have decayed from a lack of brushing and flossing are weaker and thus more prone to a chip or break.  Good dental hygiene––meaning brushing and flossing twice a day, as well as regular visits to the dentist––is a sound way to lower your chance of breaking a tooth.

What to Do in a Dental Emergency

A broken tooth is a dental emergency. As such, it needs attention right away.  If you or someone you know breaks a tooth, contact a dentist without delay.  Most dentists set aside a part of their schedule to deal with dental emergencies.

Keep any pieces of a tooth that break off so you can take them to the dentist. Rinse the mouth with warm water and use a cold compress to help keep swelling down. Fill the gap in the tooth with soft wax or dental filler if you have any. Before you see the dentist, eat only soft foods, and then only if you can’t wait.

If a tooth is knocked out of the mouth, do not touch the root end. Gently rinse the root of the tooth in water only. Be sure to avoid the loss of any tissue attached to the tooth. If you can, place the tooth back in the socket and hold it in place. If you can’t do that, place the tooth in milk or saliva until you get to the dentist.

If the other teeth do not fit together right when biting down, the jaw may be broken.  In that case, seek emergency medical help right away.

Broken Tooth Restoration

Dentists have a many options for restoring a dislodged, chipped, or broken tooth. These include crowns, veneers, and bonding. It you break a tooth, talk to your dentist about these and other types of work.