If you break a tooth during physical activity or in an accidental collision, consider it a dental emergency. Unlike tooth decay, which gradually breaks a tooth down, an accidental break can cause severe damage to both the tooth and the underlying periodontal structures, such as gum tissue. The first thing you need is an evaluation by your local dentist.
But you are probably wondering if it's possible to salvage a tooth that has all but been lost to trauma. Yes, it is possible. However, you need to get to your dentist as soon as you can. Waiting too long might rule you out of saving the tooth with one of the following treatments.
1. A Dental Crown
When there is enough tooth structure remaining above the gum line, a dentist can save a broken tooth with a dental crown. There are several types of dental crowns.
- A full crown
- Onlay crown
- Same-day crown
A dentist can repair a severely damaged tooth with a full crown. As long as there is enough remaining tooth for the crown to adhere to, a full crown is possible. Sometimes, the damage is limited to one area of a tooth. In this case, an onlay, or three-quarter crown is necessary. This will restore only the damaged part of the tooth.
Usually, your dentist will place a temporary crown once they have prepared the tooth. They then need a further 1-2 weeks to create the permanent crown. However, if you are in a hurry, you can opt for same-day crowns, but not all dental clinics offer this service.
2. Crown Lengthening and Dental Crowns
If your injury has broken your tooth off at the gum line completely, then you'll need a periodontist to first expose more of the tooth before crown placement. A dentist can only attach a dental crown to the remaining tooth structure. And sometimes, it is necessary to remove some of the bone surrounding a tooth in order to expose more of the underlying tooth.
Once the periodontist has exposed more of the tooth, your dentist can then place a crown.
3. A Dental Bridge With One or More Crowns
If the damage is so bad that the tooth is unsalvageable, then you can opt to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental bridge. A dental bridge consists of a false tooth, which fills the space left by the lost tooth, and two crowns attached to the teeth on either side of the false tooth.
You can also opt for a cantilever bridge, which only requires one crown on one side of the false tooth. This is useful if you wish to preserve more of your natural teeth, since crowns require the removal of some tooth structure.
Contact a dentist near you to learn more about emergency dentistry.