What to do When a Tooth is Broken?

It can be estimated that around 300 people experience dental trauma each week in Brisbane. A large number of these people who experience dental injuries are children. By being prepared and with a quick response, many of these tooth injuries can be repaired if it is managed quickly by parents and emergency dentists in Brisbane.

Children tend to run fast and play a lot. Injury to the face and teeth is quite common in this age. A broken or fractured tooth may not always hurt. It may or may not be painful. The level of toothache would depend on how severe the injury or fracture is. A minor fracture in your tooth may not be painful at all.

Typically, a fracture splits a tooth into two segments or fragments. One fragment will remain attached to the tooth socket and the other fragment will become free.

Dental fractures can be grouped as:

  • Chipped tooth
  • Root fracture
  • Broken tooth (tooth crown fracture)

Teeth are very strong but still they may break or fracture for a number of reasons including accidents that involve traumas to the head or face.  Whether a broken tooth always requires an emergency appointment is still debateable between dentists. I think some broken teeth require emergency treatment and dental clinics should, in general, treat broken tooth as an emergency case.

Unfortunately, there isn't much that parents can do for a child’s broken tooth without some help from a professional dentist. If your child has been involved in an injury to the face and teeth, as soon as you notice a broken tooth, call your dentist and make an emergency appointment. You should get a dentist examine your child’s teeth as soon as possible. The sooner you take them to visit a dentist, the better and higher is the chance of saving the damaged tooth.  The one thing that parents must not do is delaying or avoiding treatment for a broken or fractured tooth.

The treatment appropriate to a broken or fractured tooth depends on the extent of the damage. The treatment will also depend on the severity of the fracture or the type of the break in the tooth. A dentist can easily repair a slightly fractured or broken tooth with relatively simple restorative techniques and materials.

Human front teeth especially the upper front teeth are quite exposed and it’s often these front teeth that are fractured or broken in the accidents. Other teeth are very well protected by the bones and if they break, they tend to break due to an excessive bite force internal to the mouth.

A broken tooth can be very painful. It can completely spoil a child's good looks. Children should be very careful when playing with bats, balls and other sports that might cause injuries to their teeth. Because a broken tooth would be a permanent injury even after treatment. A broken tooth will never heal but in some cases, it can be repaired by the dentists.

Modern tooth repair materials are used by cosmetic dentists to repair damaged teeth and in some cases, you can’t easily tell if a repaired tooth has been a broken tooth before, however chips, cracks, fractures or breaks in permanent adult tooth as was mentioned above is permanent damage and should be avoided as much as possible or controlled by for example use of mouth guards when there is a risk of damage to the child’s teeth (e.g. when they skate board, etc).

If a broken tooth is left untreated, it can become infected and consequently painful. It can also eventually cause some inflammation in the bone surrounding the tooth and lead to facial swelling. Generally, if a broken tooth is still firmly attached it can be left in its place. However, sometimes the root of the tooth becomes abscessed and require urgent treatment.

If your child has been involved in a dental injury and his or her permanent tooth is partially extracted, DO NOT remove the tooth. You should never remove a partially extracted permanent (adult) tooth. Instead try to push it back into its socket and seek an emergency dental appointment as quick as possible (around 20 minutes or so). A dentist may recommend and successfully re-plant the tooth so that hopefully his or her loose tooth becomes firm and stabilized again.  

Care for a Broken Tooth

  1. Rinse the mouth gently with lukewarm water and clean the area
  2. Using lukewarm water and a clean cloth, gently clean the blood or dirt
  3. To control swelling apply an ice pack to the area of the injured tooth
  4. Make an emergency dental appointment
  5. Find broken tooth pieces if you can and cover with moist cloth or put in skim milk
  6. Take the tooth pieces with you to the dentist*

*If a piece of the tooth has broken off, that piece should be sent with the patient to the emergency cosmetic dentist. The broken piece may not be put back on but the dentist may use it as a guide during the repair and reconstruction of the broken tooth.

Your dentist may recommend a root canal therapy for the injured tooth. If the injury is severe and beyond repair and the tooth cannot be saved it may die and needs to be removed. In this case your dentist will recommend the tooth to be extracted. Tooth extraction is not the end of the world. Today a missing tooth can be replaced with a dental implant and after extraction your dentist may recommend you a dental implant. If implant is suitable, then it is best to do it as soon as possible to prevent tooth shift and collapse of other teeth into the empty space of the extracted tooth.

Dr. Ellie Nadian (Pure Dentistry)

If you live in Brisbane, Australia, you can save our address and phone number below as your emergency dentist in case you or your family needs it. We are open afterhours and weekends to help people who need emergency dental care.

Pure Dentistry Phone: (07) 3343 4869

Address: 11/1932-1974 Logan Rd, Upper Mt Gravatt, QLD 4122