Dental Emergency - Broken Tooth

If a tooth has broken as the result of an accident or biting down, the patient may or may not have pain. If there is pain and you do not have a dentist currently, you may call one of our offices listed here to speak with someone about your dental condition.

If there is no pain and you do not have a dentist currently, you may call one of our offices listed here during normal work hours and request an appointment.

Depending on the extent of breakage and the presence or absence of pain, your treatment may initially be limited to the relief of pain or, conditions permitting, you may be given the option of having indicated treatment done at the time of your emergency visit.

Considerations that will determine the type of treatment required to return normal function and appearance include but are not limited to:

  • Pain
    • Is there pain associated with the breakage?
    • Is the pain constant or does it come and go?
    • Does anything you do seem to make it better?
  • Swelling
    • Is there swelling in the gum area around where the breakage occurred?
    • If related to an accident, was there any injury to the gum, lip or cheek?
    • Location in the mouth
      Is this a front tooth where cosmetics may require an urgent remedy?
      Is this a back tooth that is not considered a cosmetic problem?
  • Extent of breakage
    • If the breakage was minor and does not cause pain at all and has no cosmetic urgency, it may only require smoothing a sharp edge of enamel.
    • If the breakage was relatively minor and causes pain only when stimulated by air or drinking something cold, then treatment may require a filling of one type or another. Where cosmetic consideration is utmost in importance, a tooth colored filling might be used. Otherwise, in a back tooth, a silver colored, dental amalgam may be used.
    • If the breakage is more extensive, and pain is more constant, the treatment may require a crown to not only replace missing structure but to prevent further fracture of the remaining structure.

If the breakage is into the nerve area of the tooth and pain is severe, the nerve may need to be removed before the form of the tooth can be restored. The removal of the nerve is called a root canal treatment. Once the damaged nerve is removed and the canal is sealed, treatment can be directed to restoring the form and function of the tooth with a post and crown, typically. The color of the crown can be made to closely match the natural tooth color.

If the breakage is so severe that the tooth cannot be restored, the tooth may need to be removed. If the tooth is removed and cosmetics is of urgent importance, usually there will be an option for a temporary appliance while the tissues heal. Once healing is complete (may take a number of weeks), further treatment might be an implant, a fixed bridge or a removable partial denture.

As you can see, there are many things to evaluate before a final diagnosis can be completed and a treatment recommended. So, when you call an office, there will be a number of questions you will be asked to determine how to best manage your dental problem. This section is not a complete listing of possible treatment options. It serves only to give you the idea that there are degrees of dental pain and the problems that a dental condition presents to the dental staff.

Reminder: If you do not currently have a dentist, please call one of our offices for an appointment. Pain and swelling related to tooth breakage do not typically go away without treatment. In fact, delay typically makes things worse so please call!

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