- Posted by Harrison Luoma
- On December 15, 2016
- 0 Comments
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So you’re out to dinner with friends. It’s a great night…good food, great friends and everything couldn’t be better… then it happens. You’re enjoying your meal and when you’re chewing you feel a sudden sharp pain in a molar and you’re frozen in fear, “Oh no! I hope I didn’t just break a tooth!”
First, don’t panic we have your solutions.
If the tooth is broken, it means that a piece of the tooth or a filling has broken off completely and now you have a space. The break could have happened because of several possible reasons:
1. The filling in the tooth is too large and the tooth walls have become weakened, not having enough strength to withstand chewing forces for a long period of time
2. You grind your teeth causing micro fractures that at any moment can give way. Think of a diamond, the cutter has to hit it “just the right way” for the diamond to sheer. Same with the tooth, if it has mini fractures from grinding the tooth is weaker and hitting it “just the right way” can cause it to sheer off.
3. There’s a cavity weakening the tooth structure. When a tooth has decay, it very often looks ok on the outside but can be soft on the inside; kind of like an apple, it can have one tiny soft spot but when you cut it open the whole inside can be rotten.
Now you know how it can happen but how to fix it or better yet prevent it. If the tooth has a break, first thing you do- after you call us – is to make sure there isn’t any loose pieces left that you don’t want to accidentally swallow. Take any over the counter pain medication such as Traumeel, Ibuprofen or the like if you need it. Avoid chewing on the affected area until you can get in to see us. Keep it as clean as you can, it may be uncomfortable so use warmer water and use a sensitive toothbrush. When you come in we’ll evaluate the area and if there is enough tooth left. We can usually place either a strong porcelain filling or maybe even a metal-free crown since this helps hold the tooth together. If the break is much bigger than is manageable with a restoration, usually the best bet is probably to remove the tooth and put in an implant…we know that’s not going to break.
Sometimes when you break a tooth, it’s not a full break but more of a crack. How do you know that the tooth probably has a crack in it? Every time you bite down on something on the tooth in question, you get a sharp pain. This is caused by the crack microscopically opening and sending a signal to the nerve.
Teeth only have one type of nerve and that is pain perception that is why everything that touches the tooth is perceived as pain only. Stupid nerve. The best way to tackle that is again either with a strong porcelain filling to “shore up” the tooth from the inside out or if the tooth has a large filling and a crack it may need a metal free porcelain crown to hold it all together.
The best way to prevent these situations from happening is of course to see us regularly so we can make sure we don’t see signs of grinding and if we do, it’s easily addressed with a night guard. Let us evaluate your bite and make sure you don’t have excessively large fillings and possible cavities.
As the saying goes, “a stitch in time saves nine”. In this case, saving you from having to leave that great dinner party with friends or intense pain…and keeping you healthy and happy.