The enamel layer on your teeth is the hardest substance in your body — stronger even than your bones. That means your teeth are strong and durable. It does not mean that they can’t be chipped, cracked or fractured. Just how to respond to a damaged tooth depends on how seriously it is damaged. In some cases, the damage is so minor that it might not need dental attention. (You may not even notice it.) On the other hand, some cracks are serious enough to warrant contacting an emergency dentist in Palm Beach Gardens as soon as possible. Here’s what you need to know about how to handle a fractured tooth.
What are the symptoms of a fractured tooth?
- A small or superficial chip might not cause any symptoms at all, except a change in appearance or texture
- When a tooth cracks, the adjacent pieces of the tooth may move while you chew and cause discomfort and pain that will gradually worsen
- If a crack or break has exposed the nerve in your tooth, pressure and movement while chewing and biting will likely cause pain
- A seriously cracked or broken tooth is also likely to be particularly sensitive to extreme temperature (heat or cold) and particularly sweet or sugary substances
When is a fractured tooth an emergency?
Minor and superficial chips to your teeth that you might notice by sensing a sharp edge with your tongue or seeing a slightly different shaped tooth in the mirror are not usually dental emergencies. Having said that, you shouldn’t ignore them either. What looks like a minor chip may in fact extend deeper into the tooth than appears or may weaken the tooth more dramatically than it seems. If you do sustain a minor chip to a tooth, contact your dentist on a non-emergency basis. Describe what happened and follow their lead about how quickly you should get your tooth looked at — even if only to rule out more serious damage.
A broken or cracked tooth, on the other hand, is a situation that should be treated as a dental emergency. If the break or crack extends beyond the surface of your tooth and is affecting the layers of your tooth beyond the enamel, it can be a serious and painful health risk. A serious fracture may expose the nerve of your tooth (and cause significant pain) or, even in less serious situations, allow bacteria to penetrate into the interior of your tooth to increase the risk of serious tooth infections.
Knowing the difference between a minor and superficial chip and a break or crack can, of course, be difficult. Whenever tooth damage does appear to you to be a break or crack — especially if you’re experiencing pain — contact an emergency dentist near you. If you’re not certain whether your damage is just a chip or a break or a crack, err on the side of caution and contact an emergency dentist in Palm Beach Gardens. They’ll ask you to describe what happened and advise you of how urgently to handle the situation.
Whenever you contact your emergency dentist, be ready to describe the symptoms you’re experiencing and any events leading up to the emergence of symptoms. If the staff at the emergency dental office near you agree that the situation is an emergency, they’ll schedule an appointment for you as soon as possible. In some cases, it may be with a general dentist or with an endodontist (specialists in the layers of your teeth below the enamel) depending on urgency and availability. If they believe the situation is not urgent, they’ll provide some advice for easing any discomfort and encourage you to contact your dental office in Palm Beach Gardens as soon as possible during regular office hours.