Broken Tooth and Infection

A broken tooth can happen to anyone at any time! Any chipped or broken tooth should be addressed by your dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the affected tooth and surrounding tissue. The severity of a fractured tooth will determine how it should be treated. Without proper treatment, a chipped tooth can eventually cause significant problems, possibly progressing into a full-on fracture or break, eventually leading to an infection in the tooth.

Left untreated, an infection in the tooth can travel into the jaw and even the neck and head, causing more severe health problems.

What are the symptoms of a broken tooth?

Not every broken tooth displays symptoms but some that you may experience include pain, sensitivity to temperatures, and even swelling in the gum tissue around the affected tooth. A chip in tooth structure can be very rough and cause sores on the tongue or cheek. Even if you do not experience pain, it is important to have your chipped tooth assessed by your dentist as soon as possible to avoid further damage and maintain oral health. They may be able to simply smooth the chip!

How do I know if I develop an infection in a broken tooth?

The inner part of the tooth houses the pulp which contains blood vessels, nerves and tissues that can cause pain in the tooth when an infection develops. When bacteria in the mouth is able to get into the fracture of a tooth, it can invade the pulp, causing an infection.

If you experience severe pain or if your tooth changes color, or becomes sensitive to hot foods and beverages, there is a good chance the pulp of the tooth has incurred damage. Your dentist can refer you to an endodontist for an evaluation and possible treatment via root canal therapy which removes the infection within the tooth.

During a root canal, the endodontist drills an access hole in the tooth and cleans out the infected pulp tissue from each canal of your tooth, relieving pain and potentially saving the tooth! After a root canal, your dentist will place either a filling or a dental crown. Teeth that receive endodontic treatment need to be permanently restored to ensure structural integrity as the tooth will become brittle over time.

What if I cannot see my dentist right away?

If you cannot see your dentist on the same day you break a tooth, rinse your mouth with warm salt water to keep everything clean and take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Tylenol or Advil if needed. If you have a sharp edge on your tooth that is bothering you, dental wax can be purchased at any drugstore and you can put that over the sharp edge. This will help prevent any sores from developing on the tongue or cheek.

Most dental offices reserve time in their schedule every day for emergencies so call right away to see if you can get in. If it is after business hours or during the weekend, there will likely be an emergency number left on the office's voicemail for you to get in touch with your dentist. Even if you are not experiencing any symptoms, it is important to see your dentist as soon as you can to prevent further damage and possible infection. An untreated dental infection can quickly progress and cause more pain and require more extensive treatment.

Half My Tooth Broke Off