Many factors cause teeth to fracture or break, including road accidents, slip and fall accidents, or tear and wear. Symptoms of fractured and broken teeth range from excruciating and erratic pain when chewing to abrupt and unexpected pain when you expose them to varying temperatures. In most cases, the pain is not always felt, making it challenging to identify the particular tooth causing the discomfort.

If you have any of these signs or think you may have a cracked tooth, you need to treat the fracture or the broken tooth to avoid the pain and its further deterioration. At The Downey Dentist, we have experienced endodontists who will identify and treat your fractured or broken teeth, giving you the relief you desire.

Overview of Fractured and Broken Teeth

It is very possible for teeth to develop cracks or break. Molars on the lower jaw are the teeth that commonly crack or break. This is because of the sharp cusps that powerfully grinds into the molar's grooves on the upper jaw.

However, all teeth are susceptible to cracking or breaking. The various injury causes from cosmetic accidents to sporting accidents can cause your teeth to chip or fracture. Some fractures can be severe that they extend from the center of your tooth where the pulp is. The pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves that become infected as a result.

In some cases, cracks may be invisible when inside a tooth or underneath the gum tissue. Additionally, some fractures or chips may not display any symptoms, and when they do, they are easily confused with being cavities, periodontal diseases, or sensitivity.

Generally, treatment for fractures or broken teeth depends on the depth and width of the damage. Your dentist will use various methods to diagnose a fractured or broken tooth and identify the best treatment plan.

Not every chip or fracture is significant enough for treatment, with some cracks or chips being prevalent. For instance, hairline fractures or craze lines standard on the enamel do not need treatment. These cracks are hard to detect the depth of the damage, and because they don't have any symptoms, you can live with them forever if no more damage is experienced on the tooth.

Some people may think there are remedies you can do at home to prevent more cracking your teeth. Unfortunately, no home remedies exist that can stop the teeth from further cracks. Getting the fractures taken care of immediately, you notice them is critical to preventing more injuries, infection, pain, and possible higher treatment costs. Sometimes, when the damage goes untreated, a further deterioration of the affected tooth can result in losing your tooth, a root canal, or more complications because of an infection.

On the other hand, some cracks or chips may require quick treatment. For instance, if you are involved in a sporting or a traffic accident where your tooth is knocked, you can save it if you see a dentist immediately. An emergency procedure is recommended where you experience heavy bleeding or excruciating pain from the injured tooth.

Causes of Fractured or Broken Teeth

A lot of reasons exist that can result in your teeth being broken or fractured. Teeth can also crack or chip due to age. As you grow older, the teeth become weaker and easily crack, resulting in losing teeth. Some of the common reasons why teeth break include:

  • The pressure as you grind your teeth.

  • Large fillings that cause the tooth to become weak and compromise on its integrity

  • Biting and chewing on hard substances or food such as candy, ice, or nuts

  • A forceful impact on the mouth, for instance from a sporting injury, traffic accident, a fall, or a fight

  • Sudden temperature changes in your mouth come from eating hot food and immediately following with an icy drink

  • Age. As a person ages, their teeth are more susceptible to cracking or breaking. If you are over 50, you may experience fractured or broken teeth.

Types of Fractured Teeth

Fractured or broken teeth are defined according to how the crack appears. The different types of fractured or cracked teeth are:

  • Craze lines – The cracks are microscopic, found on the outer covering known as the tooth's enamel. These cracks are painless, and you do not need to receive treatment for them.

  • Fractured cusp – When you have a dental filling, it can also suffer cracks. This type of damage is what is referred to as fractured cusp. Because the fracture does not affect the pulp of the tooth, it causes no significant pain.

  • Fractures extending to the gum – If your tooth has a crack running from up to down but hasn't reached your gum line, it can be saved. However, when the fracture extends until the gum line, it may be impossible to keep it, with the only remedy being the extraction. If you experience the cracked tooth's symptoms, finding a dentist immediately can help save your tooth before the crack extends.

  • Split tooth – Sometimes, a tooth has a significant crack that runs from the surface to under your gum line. The damage is typically so severe that it can split the tooth into two parts. When a tooth is severely fractured, it is impossible to salvage it, although sometimes you can have a piece of it saved. However, an extraction is a better option for relieving the pain.

  • Vertical root fracture – Some cracks start from under the gum line and travel upward. This type of damage does not have substantial symptoms like other fractures unless the tooth has an infection. The treatment in such a case is often extraction.

Signs that you have Fractured or Broken Teeth

Some fractured or broken teeth will not have noticeable symptoms. However, when they show signs, the common ones are:

  • Experiencing pain when you chew or bite, especially so when you let go of the bite

  • Extreme sensitivity to varying temperatures and sugary or sweet foods

  • Erratic pain coming and going but never continuous

  • If the tooth has an infection, the surrounding gum tissue becomes swollen

Diagnosing a Fractured and Broken Tooth

When you experience the symptoms discussed above, it will be necessary to visit a dentist who will identify the actual problem and remedy it. Typically, a mouth X-ray is performed to determine the issues in your mouth. Unfortunately, an X-ray does not always show a broken or fractured tooth. To help establish if your tooth is fractured, your dentist may do the following:

  • Discuss your dental background. Some of the questions you will be asked are whether you bite or chew on hard foods or have a history of grinding your teeth.

  • Visually examine your teeth. This may be done with a magnifying glass to help identify hairline fractures not visible with naked eyes.

  • Your dentist may decide to feel for a fracture. This may be done by running a dental explorer around and over your tooth. If an edge catches, it is an indication of a crack or a broken tooth.

  • Your dentist can also opt to use a dye known as a dental dye. When applied to the teeth, this dye makes the fractures stand out and become more visible.

  • Examine your gum for inflammation. This is a helpful technique when looking for vertical cracks that usually irritate gums.

  • Using an X-ray to see your mouth and teeth in greater detail. However, as earlier stated, x-rays do not always reveal fractures because of how small they can be. But, an X-ray can identify if your tooth has an infected pulp, which can be an indication that your tooth is fractured.

  • Your dentist can also request you to bite into something. Upon releasing your bite, if you experience pain, it is an indication that your tooth is cracked.

Treating Fractured and Broken Teeth

The discomfort of cracked or broken teeth and the possible long term effects make it necessary to have the fractures treated. Some common hairline fractures on the tooth's enamel may not require treatment. However, when the fractures or chips are sizable, you may need to be treated depending on their location, symptoms, and extent.

The methods of treating fractured and broken teeth may differ because of the nature of the damage caused. In most cases, a broken tooth means there is a part of it missing, while a fractured tooth means the tooth is cracked. This slight difference makes the treatment methods differ, as discussed below.

Methods of Repairing Fractured Teeth

If your tooth has a fracture, a dentist can repair it and prevent further damage. Some of the methods used to repair fractured teeth include:

Bonding of the Fracture

Bonding is a procedure where an artificial material is used to seal the cracks. Your dentist uses plastic resin as filler to the damages or fractures through the process, thereby restoring your tooth’s function and look.

Dental Crown

Dental crowns are artificial devices made from ceramic or porcelain. This prosthetic crown or cap is fitted over the fractured tooth, holding securely. Before fixing it, your dentist shaves part of the enamel, creating room for the crown. An impression of the cracked tooth is made, and identifying the exact color that matches your tooth is also done. The image and color are then taken to the dental lab where a crown is made.

The process of making a dental crown can take a few weeks. Once the crown is completed, your dentist fits it and secures it by cementing it on the fractured tooth. The advancement of technology has increased the speed of making the crown. Some dentists can have the crowns made in their office and placed on your tooth on the same day. If you take care of your crown, this solution to your fractured teeth can last for the rest of your life.

Ways of Repairing a Broken or Chipped Tooth

Like fractured teeth, the treatment for a broken or chipped tooth depends on its severity. Some of the treatment methods are similar to those used in cracked teeth, with the common goal of restoring your affected tooth to functionality. The various treatment methods include:

Polishing the Broken Tooth

If your tooth is slightly damaged, polishing may be the best treatment for it. Your dentist polishes the surface of the chipped tooth, smoothening it and the rugged edges. This procedure is known as cosmetic contouring. During the process, dental bonding may be combined to fill out fissures and gaps.

When bonding the tooth, your dentist will abrade it, dab it with a conditioning fluid, and apply a composite resin in the tooth's color. After this, the resin is molded to suit the shape of your tooth. In some cases, a broken bit is attached back to its original tooth as a treatment method.

Root Canal and Filling

This is another procedure for treating a broken or fractured tooth. If the chip runs deeper and not only on the surface, it means the tooth requires extensive repair. When the damage extends to the pulp, a root canal procedure is recommended.

During the treatment, your endodontist will remove the infected or inflamed pulp and sanitize or clean the inside where the pulp was. Next, a filling made of a rubbery material known as gutta-percha is used to fill the cavity left. Afterward, a crown or a cap is used to cover it.

Most people, when they hear of a root canal, they expect a distressful and dreadful procedure. However, this is a routine procedure that is not as painful as it seems. The discomfort you experience is similar to a filling.

Surgical Treatment

A broken tooth can result in a surgical procedure to treat it. This is mostly so with molars that have several roots. If a single root is cracked, the root's amputation is done to salvage the remaining tooth. This procedure is known as hemisection. Once the process is completed, your dentist must perform a root canal and fit a crown on the tooth's rest.

Extraction as a Treatment Option

When the damage caused by a chipped or broken tooth is significant, the only way to treat it may be extraction. However, an extraction is recommended as a last option depending on the crack or chip’s extent.

If the damage has caused a split of your tooth to a significant percentage, most endodontists will recommend an extraction. Extraction is also recommended where the fracture runs under the gum tissue. After an extraction, your dentist will recommend replacing your lost tooth through a dental implant. An implant usually works and looks like your teeth, making it impossible for one to notice you have an artificial tooth.

Complications of Fractured and Broken Teeth

The most significant difficulty you can suffer from a fractured or broken tooth is an infection. Some infections are so severe that they extend to the jawbone and gums. Dental disease or tooth abscess can be identified through its symptoms. These include:

  • Developing a fever

  • Experiencing pain as you chew or bite into food

  • Having swollen gums

  • Experiencing extreme sensitivity when the affected teeth are exposed to extreme temperatures

  • Feeling tenderness on your glands around the neck area

  • Having bad breath

If your dentist finds that you have developed an abscess, they will drain the pus in the affected area and prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacterial infection.

Cost of Fixing a Broken or Fractured Tooth

The cost of fixing a broken tooth depends on the procedure need. Treatment can cost a few hundred dollars when it involves cosmetic procedures. On the other hand, the cost can range from $2,500 to $3,000 when a root canal and crown are recommended. The area or place where you live and get the procedure performed will also determine the cost. If an extraction is recommended with an implant to replace the lost tooth, the cost can range from $3,000 to $5,000.

Some insurance policies will cover your treatment cost while some won't, especially where a cosmetic procedure is involved. Most repairs take two visits, with some being simple enough for a single visit.

The cost of treating or repairing a fractured tooth is usually lower than that of a broken tooth. The cost varies on the extent of the crack and your place of residence. Generally, the prices for some of these treatments are:

  • Dental bonding will cost between $100 and $1,000, depending on how complex the treatment is.

  • Installation of a crown will cost between $1,000 and $1,500. This is dependent on the material used in making the crown.

  • A root canal will cost you between $500 and $2,000. This highly depends on the location of your tooth.

  • The extraction of your tooth can cost you between $150 and $250.

Find a Dentist Near Me

Dental health is critical to your general wellbeing. When you experience a cracked or broken tooth's discomfort or symptoms, your dental health will depend on how you treat them. Finding an experienced dentist will result in the best treatment procedure and prevent further deterioration of your teeth. The Downey Dentist is experienced in various methods of treating fractured and broken teeth to ensure excellent dental health. Please schedule an appointment with us by calling our office at 562-746-0350.