Cracked, chipped or otherwise broken teeth are a common sight in many a dentist's chair. No matter how you've damaged your teeth – whether you're participating in an active contact sport, bit down on something hard in your favorite food or had an accident resulting in tooth impact – it's important to seek proper care as soon as possible.
The following discusses several different types of teeth damage and what you should do if you experience any of them.
Craze lines usually appear in the form of horizontal or vertical cracks that are superficial in appearance. These cracks are painless and, for the most part, relatively harmless. However, leaving them be could easily lead to the development of water stress fractures.
As you make an appointment with your dentist, you may want to consider keeping your teeth under as little stress as possible. That means avoiding habits (such as chewing ice) and particularly hard foods that could exacerbate these cracks.
Although your teeth's enamel is strong enough to handle nearly a lifetime of chewing, it's also surprisingly brittle. The right amount of force in the right place can easily cause a sliver to break off, leaving behind a jagged edge that could prove discomforting under certain circumstances.
Until you can get to your dentist, placing sugar-free gum or wax over the offending tooth can help temporarily relieve snagging and irritation. In a pinch, you can also use a non-metal emery board to file down the jagged edge to a slightly smoother shape, although most dentists don't recommend performing this step due to the risk involved.
Dentin fractures go beyond superficial cracks in the enamel. These fractures are characterized by a yellowish or brown appearance near or around the site of the fracture. Some patients experience little to no pain, while others experience sharp sensitivity to heat, cold and sweet foods. Continued neglect could result in infection and severe nerve damage at the tooth.
The first thing you should do after a suspected dentin fracture is rinse your mouth with warm water. If you're experiencing any pain, don't hesitate to use over-the-counter pain medicines to reduce the pain. Steer clear of hard foods as you wait for your dentist to evaluate and repair the damage.
In some cases, tooth fractures can expose the pulp within the teeth, which can lead to moderate to severe pain for the unfortunate patient. This type of fracture can definitely lead to severe swelling, infection and even the death of the tooth itself.
If this happens to you, you should get to an emergency dentist as soon as you can. In the meantime, you can attempt to relieve the pain by taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication. Your dentist may give you a stronger prescription pain medicine as part of your immediate treatment.
This type of fracture isn't the type that you can see, but you will definitely feel it. The symptoms for a horizontal or vertical root fracture normally include persistent pain that increases over time, especially when the tooth is exposed to excess cold, heat or pressure. Without proper treatment, a root fracture could lead to infection and swelling.
Immediate treatment involves the use of anti-inflammatory medicine and a soft diet that excludes extremely hot or cold foods. Once you arrive at the dentist's office, you may end up undergoing procedures to remove part of the offending root or reposition and splint the root.
No matter what type of tooth injury you suffer, it is important to have your dentist take a look as soon as possible. The sooner you reach your dentist, the more likely it is that your tooth will be saved. Your dentist or someone like Milan Simanek DDS can then make a proper evaluation of the damage and develop reasonable treatment options.