Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body. That’s right! The white enamel that covers your teeth is even stronger than bone. This resilient surface is 96 percent mineral; the highest percentage of any tissue in your body – making it very durable and very strong, but not damage-resistant, but certainly not unbreakable. Many of us may have even gone through the experience of a broken tooth, which, depending on how and where the break occurs, can be painful, and sometimes even render the tooth non-fixable. What you might find surprising is that in most cases, this can be fully preventable.
Our teeth can get chipped off, fractured or broken due to several reasons.
Top Causes of Broken Teeth
- Decay. If your teeth are decayed and have not been treated, there are high chances they will at some time undergo fracture due to reduced strength.
- Clenching and grinding habits. (AKA: Bruxism) The average force of the human bite when chewing is around 70 pounds per square inch. You have a much higher chances of breaking teeth if you have a habit of clenching teeth or grinding teeth. These excessive stresses can cause your teeth to break, and very often-DO.
- Chewing on ice or other really hard things. Good examples of this are nuts, hard candies, popcorn kernels and even beef jerky. If you’ve got large fillings or teeth that have had root canals and you just have to bite on them, just bite slowly and be deliberately careful. (In fact, just don’t chew ice. It’s a dangerously bad habit for your teeth!)
- Sports accidents without a mouthguard (and other accidental blows to the mouth.) Falling and hitting your mouth, accidentally being hit in the mouth by someone or something, taking a dive while riding your bike. These are but a few examples. This can almost always be prevented by wearing an athletic mouthguard.
- Teeth that have had root canal treatment and have not been covered by a cap / crown. Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment become brittle and fragile since the nerve of the tooth has been removed. It no longer gets nutrition from the body to maintain its strength. (That is precisely why your dentist advises you to get it crowned as soon as possible after having a root canal. To protect it from breakage.)
6. Tongue and mouth piercings. This one is new to the list, in the past decade or so: Mouth jewelry. Having a hard metal object bumping against your teeth on a regular basis, can be harmful because you tend to “play” with it a lot, and will oftentimes accidentally bite it when eating, if you’re not very careful
- Using your teeth as a tool. If “Don’t open that with your mouth!” is something people often say to you, STOP! Sometimes it’s faster/easier to use your teeth than to find a pair of scissors or an opener, but one broken tooth could be the beginning of many years of fixing and re-fixing that tooth. To avoid this, try and STOP this habit before you find yourself with a broken tooth – or a lost tooth – in the worst-case scenario!
- Imbalanced Bite. When your bite is not evenly balanced, even normal, everyday biting forces can be sufficient enough to cause some teeth to get chipped off. Bite imbalance can be caused by tooth loss, crooked teeth, or skeletal issues.
What are the effects of broken tooth?
Once a tooth is broken, the effects can range from mild to severe. Some of them are described below:
- No pain at all. If the tooth has lost only a small piece of its first layer (enamel), you may not experience pain at all.
- Tooth Sensitivity. If the break has gone beyond the enamel and into the next middle layer (the dentin), you will likely experience sensitivity while consuming hot and cold foods or drinks.
- Intense pain. When the pulp (the innermost layer) of the broken tooth is exposed, you may experience severe pain or even throbbing. This is due to nerve exposure.
- Discomfort due to sharp ends. If the break leaves a sharp edge, you may experience discomfort every time your cheeks or tongue touches it.
- Loss of the tooth. If the tooth fractures beyond the point of being able to be restored, you would need to have it removed. Then you’d be faced with having to replace it, either with an implant or a bridge.
What Can Be Done for Broken Teeth?
Depending on the severity of the chip or break, the treatment to fix it can range from just smoothing off the rough edge (for a very small, tiny chip), to a filling, a veneer, a porcelain onlay or a crown. If it’s broken beyond the point of being able to save it, a dental implant can usually be used to replace it.
If you’ve broken a tooth, Contact Us right away to restore it, if possible, and avoid further damage to the tooth. The sooner you are seen, the greater your chances are that you can save the tooth. In doing so, you can avoid more costly treatments such as a dental bridge or an implant to replace it. A broken tooth is a true dental emergency – we will get you in ASAP! 214-956-9100