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Managing Dental Trauma: A Guide to Handling Tooth Fractures

In this second blog post on how to manage dental accidents, we will be looking at one of the most common types of injuries – tooth fracture. You can read our first blog of the series here.

Whether it’s from a sports injury, an accident, or simply biting down on something hard, a fractured tooth can be painful and concerning as well as looking unsightly. Knowing how to manage this type of dental trauma can alleviate discomfort, prevent further damage and increase long-term success. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help you handle a tooth fracture effectively.

Understanding Tooth Fractures

A tooth fracture refers to any kind of crack or break in a tooth. Fractures can range from minor chips to severe breaks that affect the tooth’s structure and health. There are several types of tooth fractures:

• Craze Lines: Small, superficial cracks in the enamel.

• Fractured Cusp: A break around a dental filling.

• Cracked Tooth: A crack that extends from the chewing surface toward the root.

• Split Tooth: A crack that has progressed to split the tooth into two distinct segments.

• Vertical Root Fracture: A crack that begins at the root and extends toward the chewing surface.

Immediate steps to take when a fracture happens include gently rinsing your mouth with warm water to clean the area. This helps remove any debris and reduce the risk of infection. Appling a cold compress to the outside of your cheek can help if you have any immediate swelling and it also to aids pain relief. Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or paracetamol can also help manage discomfort.

If a piece of the tooth has broken off, try to find and preserve it. Rinse the fragment with water and place it in a container of milk or saline solution. This can be helpful for your dentist in deciding the best course of action. If the fracture has created a sharp or jagged edge, cover it with dental wax or sugarless gum to protect your tongue, cheeks, and lips from cuts.

Remember!

Stay away from hard, crunchy, or sticky foods, as well as hot or cold beverages, which can exacerbate the pain and damage. Try to avoid chewing with the affected tooth until you get a medical. Contact your dentist as soon as possible. Explain the situation and schedule an emergency appointment. The sooner you receive professional care, the better the outcome will be.

Treatment Options

Your dentist will evaluate the severity of the fracture and recommend the appropriate treatment. Common treatments for tooth fractures include:

• Reattach Lost Fragment: If it is in one piece and good condition, the best aesthetics can often be achieved by replacing the fractured part.

• Bonding: For minor chips, a tooth-coloured resin can be used to repair the damage.

• Veneers: Thin shells of porcelain or composite resin can cover the front surface of the tooth to restore its appearance and function.

• Crowns: For more significant fractures, a crown can cap the damaged tooth, providing strength and protection.

• Root Canal Therapy: If the fracture extends into the pulp (the tooth’s inner tissue), root canal therapy may be necessary to remove infected tissue and save the tooth.

• Extraction and replacement: In cases where the tooth is severely damaged and cannot be repaired, extraction may be the only option. You can also have it replaced by a dental implant or other appropriate solution.

Preventing Tooth Fractures

While accidents are sometimes unavoidable, you can take steps to reduce the risk of tooth fractures. If you play contact sports or engage in activities with a high risk of impact, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Do not use your teeth to open packages, bottles, or other objects. Avoid biting into hard foods such as ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candies. Do not trust packages claiming ‘pit-less’ olives, prunes, etc.

Strong, healthy teeth are less prone to fractures. Brush and floss regularly and visit your dentist for routine check-ups and cleanings. Studies have shown that the risk of traumatic dental injury increases with increasing overjet (how far the top teeth sit forwards of the bottom teeth), therefore normalising overjet with orthodontic treatment, such as Invisalign, can reduce the risk of tooth fracture.

Conclusion

Dealing with a fractured tooth can be stressful, but knowing the right steps to take can help you manage the situation effectively. If you experience a tooth fracture from a traumatic injury, contact Bridgeways Dental, or your local emergency dental service for expert care, advice and support.

References

Arraj GP, Rossi-Fedele G, Doğramacı EJ. The association of overjet size and traumatic dental injuries-A systematic review and meta-analysis. Dent Traumatol. 2019 May 6. doi: 10.1111/edt.12481. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PubMed PMID: 31062510.

Petti S. Over two hundred million injuries to anterior teeth attributable to large overjet: a meta-analysis. Dent Traumatol. 2015 Feb;31(1):1-8. doi: 10.1111/edt.12126. Epub 2014 Sep 27. PubMed PMID: 25263806.

If you are looking for better dental health and a better dental practice in Southampton then please get in touch, simply call 023 8086 8833 or send us a message via our contact page.