If you’ve never had any particular problems with your teeth, it’s easy to see why you would imagine them to be indestructible, but don’t assume they are impervious to all damage, your teeth are still vulnerable to chips, cracks, and breakages that can cause lots of problems. The mineral layers of teeth form the hardest bone in the human body, but that doesn’t mean they are unbreakable.
What sort of things can break my teeth?
A sudden impact to the face, from a fall or accident, can do real damage to the teeth and jaw bone. Broken or knocked-out teeth are normally very painful and require immediate attention to prevent loss of the tooth or infection. If someone hits you with an object – or hard enough with their fists – it can dislodge the root of the teeth from the soft tissue holding it, or it could just smash it to pieces in the socket. This type of injury would undoubtedly have more serious repercussions, such as head trauma, a broken jaw, or concussion.
Something as simple as biting down on a hard piece of material can chip a tooth, or even break them. Tough nuts and hard sweets are the worst culprits, but some people are happy to open beer bottles with their teeth – that’s not a smart idea in anyone’s book.
Cavities can also be blamed for weakening teeth and causing breakages. The structure of the tooth is compromised when decay starts to destroy the mineral layers, it can’t take the pressure of biting and chewing in the same way. As a result of this, pieces may start to break away and cracks form, making the problem worse. If the decay is allowed to progress unabated, the whole tooth will eventually be incapable of functioning properly, and even the smallest amount of pressure can be painful or cause cracks to form.
Will it hurt?
It won’t necessarily hurt straight away, but it’s always best to have your teeth assessed by a dentist as soon as possible. If you are injured out of office ours and need attention straight away, the Pearl Dental Clinic runs a twenty-four hour emergency service, so there’s always someone available to help you out in times of trouble, day or night. Emergency situations like knocked or twisted teeth will probably be quite painful, indicating that a trip to the dentist is in order; however, smaller, more obscure fractures are easy to miss. A lot of people would probably assume that with injuries like this, if there is no pain, they are in the clear, often this is not the case. Hair line cracks and small chips are difficult to spot, but they are the perfect place for bacteria to gather undetected, leading to tooth decay and possibly worse.
Whether you are feeling pain or not, make sure you get your teeth looked at after an accident, you never know what problems may be lurking under the surface. Don’t ignore toothache that comes and goes either, this could be an indicator of a deeper infection and needs treating immediately.
What can I do about a broken tooth?
Your first course of action should be to contact a medical professional; they’re trained for such occurrences, and will know what to do straight away. Don’t try to ignore the problem – especially if it’s painful, and don’t attempt any kind of surgery on yourself, leave it to the people who know what they’re doing. Having said that, there are some steps you can take to ease discomfort or prepare yourself for a dental appointment.
Cracked/fractured teeth – The only thing you can really do about a cracked tooth is get straight to the dentist’s office, you won’t be able to fix it yourself. You might notice the damage in the mirror, or feel some pain when eating and drinking, but there may not be any discomfort at all. Regardless, you should seek medical attention. If you are in pain, take some Ibuprofen to relieve it – it’s also good for reducing any inflammation.
Broken teeth – Depending on what caused the tooth to break, there are several treatments your dentist could provide, but while you wait to be referred be careful to keep any broken pieces safe, it may be possible to reattach them. Don’t remove any remaining shards that are still in the socket, they could be useful when rebuilding the tooth – and in any case, if would cause a lot of pain. If you have had a severe injury, it may be helpful to apply an ice pack to the damaged area; this will ease the pain and reduce swelling.
Knocked-out teeth – This is the situation that a lot of people dread, but just because a tooth has been knocked out, does not necessarily mean you are going to be stuck with a gap in your smile forever. If it’s not too painful, try and put the tooth back in the socket, this encourages the root to reattach to the gums it was torn from. Otherwise, you can keep the tooth alive using a container of milk, until you get in to see the dentist. This type of accident generally constitutes an emergency and should be seen to immediately, or the chances of reattaching the tooth are slim.
Most emergency clinics should be able to fit you in within twenty-four hours, but if there is heavy bleeding or you’re in a lot of pain, it may be worth your while to try the A&E department. Some people struggle with travel or just don’t live near enough to the surgeries, so they chose the easier option of their local hospital. It may not be ideal, because the healthcare staff are not specifically trained to deal with all kinds of dental problems in the same way as dentists, but at the very least they will be able to patch you up and send you on your way – until you can seek treatment for more specific injuries. Your local GP may also be able to help if you’re in need of antibiotics or pain relief, but they won’t be able to assist with surgical elements such as extractions or tooth repair.