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A Chip Off the Old Dental Block

Aug 14, 2013

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You've started school and made the varsity team.  Congratulations!  You know your Mom told you to find out about mouth guards BEFORE you started playing this season.  But nooooooooooo – you “forgot.”  Well, now you have been smacked in the kisser while playing defense and have a broken tooth. 

Perhaps now you should smile nicely with your broken tooth and ask Mom to take you to the dentist.  And yes, this gives Mom permission to say, “I told you so.”

Fractured and broken teeth are nothing to smile about.  Even though tooth enamel is one of the strongest materials in your body, it can still break and suffer damage.  There are several ways that your teeth can crack, chip or break including being hit in the mouth, biting down on something hard, cavities, or failed dental work. 

Pain isn’t always associated with breaking a tooth.  You may not even know you've chipped a tooth until your tongue meets the snaggletooth.  And other times the pain from a broken tooth is unbearable.  If a large piece of tooth falls off, there might be nerve damage which will need immediate attention.  If you suffer this, trust us; you’ll know it! And having the dentin in your tooth exposed to air or hot and cold foods can make the pain even worse.

So where do you go from here? 

It’s not “breaking” news that you should see a dentist as soon as possible to get your tooth repaired.  If you don’t have a dental plan to help with this, you can visit Dental Insurance Store first – a discount dental card goes into effect immediately and will help you save money while saving your smile!  (Now that’s something Mom will be proud of!)  There are steps you can take to reduce the damage and pain until you see the dentist.

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water
  • Use a piece of gauze to apply pressure to any area that may be bleeding – especially if your broken tooth is the result of a fall
  • Place an ice pack on your mouth (lips) closest to the damaged tooth to reduce swelling
  • Cover up your tooth with a dental cement sealant from a drugstore if you cannot get in to see the dentist the same day.
  • While you'll want to tell your dentist a spectacular story about how you were the last man standing in the international dodgeball game against the entire Uruguayan team when you were smacked in the mouth simultaneously with 10 balls, don’t.  They need to know the truth.  No one will judge the fact that you actually broke your tooth opening up a package of Barbie© shoes for your 6 year old.  How you injured yourself will determine the course of dental action.  The Colgate website says there are 7 types of tooth fractures ranging from minor to decaying-induced (probably a sign that the Zombie Apocalypse is quickly approaching). 

    Here is a brief “breakdown” of some of them:

  • Minor cracks on the surface of the tooth or the enamel can be easily polished to rid the tooth of any rough spots.
  • Chipped teeth don’t always need treatment and can usually be polished if they are small.  The dentist may suggest fixing the damage with a filling material if it’s a noticeable piece missing.
  • Cracked teeth involve the entire tooth from surface to nerve and can be painful.  The crack may eventually spread even though the tooth stays intact.  Depending on the damage to the tooth, it can be repaired with filling material, a crown to prevent the crack from getting worse or a root canal if the nerve and pulp are damaged.
  • Broken cusps are not likely to cause pain.  Cusps are the pointed chewing surfaces of your teeth and can be fixed by polishing them down if they are minor breaks.  For more major cusp breaks, an onlay or a crown is required.
  • Serious breaks are just that…serious.  These are breaks that go down to the nerve. The dentist most likely will perform a root canal and place a crown on the tooth to restore the tooth’s integrity.  These breaks rate 8 out of 10 on the pain scale of dental injuries!
  • Decay-induced breaks involve the tooth breaking due to a cavity that has weakened the tooth from the inside out. Depending on the depth of the cavity, the tooth may be removed and replaced with an implant. 
  • Most of the time, breaking your teeth can be avoided.  Even the decay-induced breaks can be partially combated with great oral hygiene.  By taking precautions while playing sports, especially dodgeball because we saw how that turned out, you can save the money in your wallet along with your smile.  But don't forget that we're here for you too when you need us.  Stay tuned next week for more back to school tips for your dental health!

    Get more great tips on your dental health by following us on Facebook and Pintrest.  We would like to wish the students good luck this year and as all good Jedi masters say, “may your teeth be with you!”

    Sources: Colgate, CrestProHealth, WebMD

    Copyright 2013 Bloom Insurance Agency, LLC©
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