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Your Options to Fix a Tooth Broken in Half Tooth

Explore treatment options for a tooth broken in half. From emergency measures to professional fixes, find the solution for your dental emergency.

Last updated on

December 12, 2023

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Your Options to Fix a Tooth Broken in Half Tooth

We've all been there — savoring that irresistible crunchy candy, biting into an unanticipatedly hard nut, or using our teeth as a convenient (but ill-advised) tool. All fun and games until — crack! You've got yourself a tooth broken in half. 

It's a jarring experience that can create a wave of panic. But fear not! We're here to tell you precisely what you need to do when faced with this dental conundrum.

What Does It Mean When a Tooth Breaks in Half?

First, let's take a moment to understand what exactly is going on in your mouth. 

A tooth breaking in half means the tooth's structure has been compromised severely enough that a significant part of it has separated. This can happen for various reasons, from external trauma (like a sports injury or a fall) to internal factors (like decay weakening the tooth from within).

Grinding or clenching your teeth — often a subconscious act during sleep — can also put undue stress on your teeth, leading to fractures over time. Sometimes, your teeth can even give way under the strain of biting down on something hard — like that deceitful candy we mentioned earlier.

What Should You Do Immediately If Your Tooth Breaks in Half?

Okay, so you're standing there, a piece of tooth in hand (or, more likely, in mouth). What's the next step? Rule number one is: Don't panic. While it's undoubtedly unsettling, it's not the end of the world, and we're here to help.

Firstly, rinse your mouth with warm saltwater. This helps keep the area clean and soothes any irritation. Apply a cold compress to your face in the area of the broken tooth to minimize swelling and relieve pain. If it's bleeding, apply pressure with a clean piece of gauze until it stops.

If the break has resulted in a sharp or jagged edge, cover it with a piece of sugarless chewing gum or over-the-counter dental wax to prevent it from cutting your tongue or the inside of your cheek.

Why Is Seeking Professional Help Essential for a Broken Tooth?

While these initial steps will help manage the immediate situation, booking an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible is absolutely crucial. Yes, even if the tooth isn't hurting. 

Why? Well, even if you're not in pain, the break may have exposed the inner layers of your tooth, making them vulnerable to infection. This could lead to a complication like an abscess, which is much harder to treat than a broken tooth.

A broken tooth can also cause issues with eating and speaking, as well as potential cosmetic concerns that might affect your self-confidence. A dentist can assess the extent of the damage, help manage your symptoms, and discuss your treatment options to restore your tooth's function and appearance.

So, while it might be tempting to ignore the problem if you're not in pain, leaving a broken tooth untreated could result in more severe (and more costly) problems down the line. A quick visit to the dentist now could save you a world of discomfort and dentist bills later on. 

What Are the Possible Treatment Options for a Tooth Broken in Half?

The moment has arrived: You're seated in the dentist's chair, slightly nervous but also eager to get your smile back in shape. You've done the right thing seeking professional help, and now it's time to explore the treatment options for your broken tooth. The good news? You've got quite a few.

The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the break, the overall health of the tooth, and the surrounding teeth. Your dentist will consider all these factors, along with your preferences and needs, before suggesting the best course of action. 

Here are the top contenders.

1. Dental Bonding

Also known as composite bonding, this is a minimally invasive procedure that's often used for minor breaks. The dentist applies a tooth-colored composite resin to the broken tooth, shapes it, hardens it with a special light, and then polishes it.

  • Pros: The procedure is fast, typically completed in one office visit, and doesn't require any special preparation. It can produce natural-looking results, maintaining the aesthetic integrity of your smile. Plus, it's one of the least expensive dental repair procedures.
  • Cons: While dental bonding can be an efficient solution, it may not be as long-lasting or resilient as other types of restorations. The composite resin used in bonding is also prone to staining over time.

2. Dental Veneers

If the break is more significant or you want a more aesthetically pleasing result, your dentist may recommend a veneer. A veneer is a thin shell made from porcelain or composite material that's cemented to the front surface of the tooth. Veneers can make a chipped or discolored tooth look whole and healthy again.

  • Pros: Veneers provide a highly natural and aesthetic finish, often indistinguishable from your real teeth. They are stain-resistant and have a longevity of 10 to 15 years with proper care.
  • Cons: The process of applying veneers can be more involved, often requiring the removal of some of the tooth's surface. This process is irreversible, and veneers, being more expensive, can impact your pocket.

3. Dental Crowns

For a tooth that's broken extensively, a dental crown (or cap) might be the way to go. It covers the entire tooth, protecting it from further damage and restoring its shape, size, and function. Depending on the material used — porcelain, composite, metal, or a combination — crowns can be very durable and look like natural teeth.

  • Pros: Crowns are incredibly strong, and they protect your tooth from further damage. They can last anywhere from five to 15 years or longer, depending on the type of crown and your oral hygiene practices.
  • Cons: Getting a crown typically involves multiple visits to the dentist, and the procedure can be more expensive than other options. It also requires the removal of more tooth structure.

4. Root Canal Treatment

If the break has exposed the tooth's pulp (where the nerve and blood vessels are), you may need a root canal. This involves removing the damaged pulp, cleaning and filling the root canal, and sealing the tooth. Most teeth that have had root canal treatments will also require a crown for protection, which further increases the bill.

  • Pros: A root canal can save a tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted. The procedure has a high success rate and can last a lifetime with good oral hygiene.
  • Cons: Despite modern anesthesia techniques, the procedure can still be nerve-wracking for some. Post-procedure sensitivity or discomfort can also occur.

5. Tooth Extraction

In the most severe cases — where the tooth is broken so badly that it can't be saved — your dentist might suggest an extraction. This is usually a last resort. After extraction, the tooth can be replaced with a dental implant, bridge, or partial denture.

  • Pros: Extraction eliminates the problem entirely and can alleviate any pain associated with the damaged tooth. It can also prevent the spread of infection to other areas of the mouth.
  • Cons: Tooth extraction leaves a gap that should be filled to prevent shifting of the remaining teeth. The process of replacing the extracted tooth with an implant, bridge, or denture can be lengthy and costly.

When Might Tooth Extraction Be the Only Option?

Sometimes, despite all the efforts to save a tooth, extraction may be the only viable option. This typically happens when the tooth is broken so severely that repair is impossible due to:

  • Large fractures that extend below the gum line.
  • Severe tooth decay that has destroyed most of the tooth structure.
  • A significant infection that has spread to the surrounding bone. 

Tooth extraction can sound intimidating, but modern dental practices and anesthesia make the process much more comfortable than you might expect. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth. Once the area is numb, special tools are used to remove the tooth.

After the extraction, it's normal to experience some discomfort as the anesthesia wears off. Your dentist will provide you with post-extraction care instructions to facilitate healing and prevent complications. These generally include advice on diet, cleaning the extraction site, and over-the-counter medications to manage any discomfort.

How Can Dental Implants or Dentures Help After Tooth Extraction?

Following tooth extraction, it's essential to replace the missing tooth to maintain your oral health and the functionality of your teeth. Two popular options are dental implants and dentures.

  • Dental implants are a permanent solution, providing a replacement that closely mimics the look and function of a natural tooth. An implant involves inserting a titanium post into your jawbone, which then fuses with the bone in a process called osseointegration. Once healed, a dental crown is attached to the post, providing a sturdy, natural-looking replacement tooth.
  • Dentures are removable and can be full (replacing all teeth) or partial (replacing one or more teeth). They are custom-made to fit your mouth and match your existing teeth, restoring your smile and your ability to eat and speak correctly.

Each option has its pros and cons. Implants are more expensive but offer a permanent solution that's easy to care for and feels natural. Dentures are less costly and less invasive, but they require special care and might not feel as natural or stable as an implant.

How Can Flossy Assist in Managing Your Broken Tooth Situation?

Flossy, as your dental partner, can offer an array of services to manage your broken tooth situation. From initial examination and emergency care to various treatment options, Flossy's team of experienced dental professionals is equipped to handle it all.

Not only that, but Flossy operates on a pay-as-you-go model. This ensures you don't have to worry about big bills or insurance headaches. You simply pay for the services you need when you need them. This approach, coupled with Flossy's commitment to affordable care, allows you to manage your dental health without breaking the bank. 

Remember, at Flossy, your smile is our priority. Download our app today and create an account so we can get right to your broken tooth!

Sources:

Dental Trauma: What Is it and How Is it Treated? | Top Doctors

Cavities (Tooth Decay): Symptoms, Causes & Treatment | Cleveland Clinic

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding) - Symptoms and Causes | Mayo Clinic

How Oral Problems Affect Your Self-Esteem | Australian & New Zealand Mental Health Association

Tooth Extraction: Procedure, Aftercare & Recovery | Cleveland Clinic

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