Dental Accidents: What should I do in case of chipped, cracked, and broken teeth?
Dental accidents refer to any injury or damage sustained by the teeth and other oral structures, such as the lips, gums, and bone. They are usually brought about by accidents, fights, eating hard or hot foods, and biting on hard objects. Such injury may include fractures, lacerations, and abrasions, which is usually accompanied by pain, bleeding, and swelling. Dental accidents occur quite frequently, and should be treated immediately to avoid complications.
In general, the most logical thing to do once dental accidents (particularly the severe cases) happen to you is to go to your dentist right away, so he or she can render the most appropriate treatment for your case. Treatment will depend on the location, type, and severity of the injury. Of course, this will not always be possible, as accidents happen when and where you least expect them. Because of that, it would be very helpful if you know the first things that you should do if such accidents or injuries occur. And that's what we will discuss in this article-- what you should do in case of chipped, cracked, and broken teeth.
This type of dental injury does not necessarily require immediate care, except of course when you find it very unesthetic and you want to get it fixed right away. Nevertheless, it is still important for this to be treated to avoid abrading the soft tissues around it. In the case of a tooth which has chipped off, but with an unaffected pulp (the tissue that makes up the innermost part of the tooth), your dentist will simply restore the chipped portion using a tooth-colored restorative material. There are also cases where it is possible to bond the tooth fragment back to the tooth, so you must save the fragment if possible.
On the other hand, in more severe cases, such as those which have nearly reached the pulp, or when a considerable portion got chipped off, restoration with porcelain veneers or crown may be needed. And lastly, for cases which involve the pulp, there are two options-- root canal treatment and then restoration with a post and core, or extraction and then restoration with a fixed bridge or a removable denture.
Aside from injury, cracked teeth may also be brought about by habits like teeth grinding and eating hard foods. You will know that you have cracked tooth when you experience pain when chewing or when eating or drinking hot or cold foods. If left untreated, cracked tooth may lead to pulp irritation and infection, which can eventually spread to the tissues around the teeth.
Unlike chipping which do not require immediate care, the first thing that you must do when your tooth is cracked is to go to your dentist, as the most recommended treatment for cracked teeth is root canal treatment. In this procedure, your dentist will remove the pulp of the affected tooth, and then fill the space with a filling material that is compatible with the surrounding tissues. The goal of this treatment is to seal the space and prevent the spread of infection. Once done, you dentist will now restore your tooth with a crown, to protect the tooth and hold the cracked pieces together. In cases where the tooth is so badly-injured that even root canal treatment can't save it, extraction may be the only option.
When you have broken tooth, what you must do is to save the broken pieces and wash it. And then, you should also rinse your mouth with warm water. If there’s bleeding, you may put a piece of gauze on the bleeding site, and press it for around 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. If swelling of the surrounding tissues is present, you may apply cold compress on the swollen area to reduce swelling and pain, if present. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs may also be helpful.
Once done with the first aid measures above, go to your dentist right away. Depending on the severity of the case, he or she will recommend extraction or root canal treatment.
Preventing your teeth from becoming chipped, cracked, or broken
Even if no one knows when or where dental accidents will happen, there are still certain ways that you can do to lessen your chances suffering from them. Some tips to prevent dental accidents include:
- Avoid chewing or eating hard foods such as ice, hard candies, or bones.
- Avoid biting on hard objects such as pens or pencils.
- If you have habits like teeth grinding, or if you are engaged in sports activities, have a mouthguard constructed by your dentist, and use it always.
- Prevent yourself from getting into fights.
- Be aware of the first things that you must do in case dental accidents occur.
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