Cracked, Chipped or Broken Tooth
If a piece of your tooth has cracked, chipped, or broken off, no need to worry. There is a good chance that the dentist can fix your chipped tooth. Read more below to learn things you can do to manage the problem until you are seen by a dentist, or contact us for more information.
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Can my chipped tooth be saved?
The type of treatment will depend on (1) how much of the tooth remains above the gum, and (2) whether there is tooth pain.
Not enough tooth structure above the gum
You will know there is inadequate structure above the gum if most of the tooth above the gum is missing. As a good rule of thumb, at least 2 millimeters of tooth height above the gum is required for tooth restorability. If your tooth is very broken, meaning that the broken portion of the tooth extends into the gums, then unfortunately the tooth is not salvageable and will require tooth removal followed by tooth replacement. We can replace teeth with dental implants, dental bridges or dentures.
Adequate tooth structure above the gum, and no tooth pain
If more than 2 millimeters of tooth height is present, then there is a good chance that the dentist can save your tooth. An absence of tooth pains can mean one or two things. It could mean that a superficial amount of the tooth has crumbled away and that the nerve space within the tooth remains intact and healthy. Alternatively, it could mean that the tooth had root canal treatment previously, and so you will not feel any pain at all. As long as there is enough tooth structure above the gum, the tooth can be fixed with either a tooth filling or tooth crown.
Adequate tooth structure above the gum, and tooth pain is present
If you are experiencing tooth pain, it can mean any number of things. It is important that you seek the help of a dentist to find out why the tooth hurts. This could mean that the nerve space inside the tooth has been exposed and will need root canal treatment. It could also mean that the tooth has cracked below the gum line and is causing pain in the gum and bone. In the latter case, the dentist cannot save the tooth and it should be extracted. There are potentially other reasons why the tooth can hurt. When there is tooth pain present, we judge the restorability of the tooth on a case by case basis.
Do not delay if you are having broken a tooth. Arrange to see the dentist right away
You should not ignore a broken tooth. When addressed early by the dentist, there is a higher chance that the problem can be fixed more easily and less expensively. Delaying dental treatment could result in a tooth that is so broken that there is no choice but to remove it, as well as more expensive tooth replacement treatment.
Contact us to learn more information about saving broken teeth.
How to manage a broken tooth until you can see the dentist
If you are feeling pain, pain medication can provide a temporary relief and is be available over the counter at your local pharmacy. Speak to your local pharmacist or dentist for a recommendation of what is right for you. They may recommend Acetaminophen (Tylenol), Ketorolac, Ibuprofen (Advil) or a combination of the three.
This may surprise you. Taking ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and acetaminophen (Tylenol) together works better to relieve pain compared to taking them separately. These are pain medications that are readily available over the counter. Just make sure to not take more than the recommended dose.
Unless you have a health condition that prevents you from taking either ibuprofen or acetaminophen, the absolute maximum dose that I recommend patients take for the worst dental pain is 600mg ibuprofen with 1000mg acetaminophen every 4 to 6 hours.
Some people experience some stomach or abdominal pain when taking the two medications together. In this case, it’s better to alternate when you take each medication.
Keep the area as clean as possible
Until you can see the dentist in person, keeping the problem area free of food debris and dental plaque will help prevent a potential cavity from getting worse, and will remove all irritants that could cause dental sensitivity and pain. We recommend brushing regularly, ideally after every meal, and flossing as well.
Swish with mouth wash often. Mouth wash has anti-bacterial chemicals that kill bacteria that cause gum infection and tooth decay.
A Waterpik Water Flosser is a terrific device for removing irritants around the gum. This is because the powerful water jet can blast away debris and bacteria that a traditional tooth brush has difficulty reaching. One great tip is to put one part mouth wash with water in the well of the Waterpik to get an added anti-bacterial effect of the mouthwash. The Waterpik Water Flosser can be found in your big box department stores like Walmart or Costco or in your local pharmacy.
Do not eat or chew on that side
If biting on the side with the problem tooth causes pain, it is best to avoid chewing on it. Biting on it could irritate the infected area, causing more pain. A weak tooth is at risk of breaking more with enough biting force. Having a normal, well-balanced diet is important to your health. Choose softer foods, and chew on the opposite side of your mouth for the time being.
What you eat matters, and it is well known that certain foods and drinks increases your risk of dental decay. Specifically, you want to avoid food and drinks that are sugary, sticky and acidic. These include:
- Soda pop
- Coffee with Sugar
- Citrus fruits and drinks
- Dried Fruit
- Potato Chips
By changing the foods you eat, you change the environment in your mouth that is less friendly towards bacteria responsible for tooth decay that thrive in sugar-rich, acidic environments.
To learn more about these foods and drinks that are harmful to your teeth, read this article: 8 Foods and Drinks that are Bad for Your Teeth.
Avoid hot and cold food and drink
Keep the food and drink you eat lukewarm or room temperature. Any sudden temperature changes may irritate the affected tooth.
Antibiotics requires a doctor’s prescription
If the dental emergency is a dental infection or abscess, antibiotics will help. However, there is a reason why dentists and doctors do not carelessly hand out antibiotics.
First, not all dental emergencies are infections, therefore antibiotics may not help.
Second, antibiotics can have serious side effects, such as life-threatening allergic reactions, diarrhea and vomiting.
Third, if not taken properly under the guidance of a dentist, you can develop antibiotic resistance that can make fighting infections more difficult.
It is therefore important to see the dentist to properly diagnose the dental problem before prescribing antibiotic medication.
Contact your Toronto Dentist at Atlas Dental
Regardless of the dental concern, it is important to consult a Toronto dentist you trust. Atlas Dental is a concierge dental clinic that offers dental emergency service, general dentistry, and cosmetic dentistry in the Toronto area. Contact us today.
How much does an Emergency Dental Visit Cost?
A common question is how much an Emergency Dental Visit costs in Toronto. For more information on emergency dental visit costs, visit our page on Emergency dental services.
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