A broken tooth can occur out of nowhere. Whether it’s the result of an unexpected blow to the mouth or gradual wear to the tooth, a broken tooth can be a very serious shock. Thus, it is good to have a plan of action should such a situation occur. Read below as Dr. James Fondriest, discusses the potential causes of a broken tooth and what you should do if you suffer one.
Potential Causes of a Broken Tooth
- Bruxism. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, subjects teeth to serious strain. In the beginning, it may result in enamel loss, robbing teeth of a vital defense against bacteria and tooth decay. Eventually, however, the teeth will begin to lose structural integrity, putting them at risk of breaking and suffering other damage such as cracks or chips. If bruxism is untreated, a patient may end up needing several dental crowns to reinforce damaged teeth and restore their function.
- Tooth decay. Tooth decay can severely weaken a tooth from the inside out. As the decay progresses, the tooth loses strength, making it less capable of standing up to the forces of biting and chewing. With its strength being sapped by decay, the tooth can eventually become too weak to function, resulting in a break.
- An unexpected blow. A dental emergency can strike at any moment. Thus, even healthy teeth may suffer a break if they take an unexpected blow.
What to Do for a Broken Tooth
If you suffer a broken tooth, your tooth is in a very vulnerable state. Bacteria will be able to enter the tooth without difficulty, increasing the likelihood of an infection. Therefore, one of your first priorities is to attempt to clean the mouth of bacteria, and the best way to do so is to rinse the mouth with warm water. Although water will not remove all of the bacteria, it will wash away some of it, lowering your chances of developing an infection. After rinsing, you may want to apply a cold compress to reduce any swelling. Then seek prompt dental care.
Repairing a Broken Tooth
To repair a broken tooth, Dr. Fondriest can fit the tooth with a dental crown to lend it strength and restore its function. Depending upon where in the mouth the tooth is located, Dr. Fondriest may use one of two types of dental crowns. For teeth in the front of the mouth, where teeth are highly visible and appearance is of prime importance, Dr. Fondriest may suggest a porcelain crown. Offering outstanding cosmetic results, porcelain crowns can be customized to mimic nearby teeth, and they even replicate the way that natural teeth reflect light for an unparalleled cosmetic touch.
However, if the broken tooth is located in the back of the mouth, your dentist may suggest a porcelain-fused-to-metal (PFM) crown. PFM crowns feature superior strength to porcelain crowns, owing to a metal underlayer to which an outer coating of porcelain is attached. However, because of the metal underlayer, PFM crowns are unable to match the cosmetic results of all-porcelain crowns. Over time if the gums recede, the edge of the metal, called the coping, may become exposed creating a black line at the base of the crown across the gum line (although a porcelain butt joint margin can be added to the crown when it is made to cover the coping should the gums recede). Additionally, the metal underlayer makes PFM crowns less like natural teeth than all-porcelain crowns because teeth are somewhat translucent, and the metal coping does not allow the PFM crowns to mimic this quality completely. They are, therefore, used most often for restorations on teeth in the back of the mouth, where the forces of biting and chewing are greater and teeth are still visible but not on display.
Schedule a Visit with Your Dentist
If you suffer a broken tooth, don’t panic. With the proper care and with your Lake Forest IL dentist’s professional expertise, your tooth can be repaired and restored to functionality once again. Contact our Chicago dentist office today at 847-234-0517 to schedule an appointment or a consultation with your Lake Forest IL dentist, Dr. Fondriest. Our dental office serves Chicago and Chicago’s North Shore suburbs.