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What Happens If I Leave A Broken Tooth Untreated?

young female with tooth pain

Although teeth are very strong, they can break under certain conditions. If this occurs, you’ll need to see your dentist as soon as possible.

Why and how do teeth break?

Teeth can break in the following ways:

  • Biting down on something hard, like ice or a hard food
  • Using your teeth as tools to rip a tag off clothing, to hold items when your hands are full, etc.
  • Falling
  • Being hit in the face or mouth
  • Having untreated cavities that weaken the tooth
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth
  • Having large, old amalgam fillings that don’t support the enamel of the rest of the tooth

What is a cracked or broken tooth and how is it treated?

A cracked tooth can occur from injury or wear and tear. If you have a cracked tooth, it can’t be treated at home and instead needs a dentist’s care. Symptoms of a cracked tooth include pain when you’re chewing and when you release the bite, pain that’s constant or comes and goes, and sudden pain when the cracked tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures.

The sooner you get treatment for a cracked tooth, the better chance you have of saving it, because the damage will progressively worsen. If the crack has extended into the tooth’s pulp, it can be treated with a root canal procedure, and a crown can protect the crack from spreading. If the crack extends below the gum line, it can’t be saved, so it will need to be extracted.

Can a broken tooth be saved? Can it get infected?

A broken tooth can occur after an untreated crack, an untreated cavity, or a trauma such as a fall. How fast do you need to see a dentist for a broken tooth? It needs to be treated by a dentist as soon as possible.

Until you can get to the dentist, take the following steps:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water
  • If you’re bleeding, apply pressure to the area with a piece of gauze or tea bag
  • Apply a cold pack to the cheek or lips
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever

The treatment you’ll receive for a broken tooth depends on the extent of the damage. You may need a root canal if your tooth’s root has been exposed, and a crown may also be necessary. In cases where the tooth can’t be saved, it can be extracted and replaced with a bridge, dental implant, or other option.

What can happen if you don’t get your tooth examined right away?

The sooner you get a broken tooth treated by your dentist, the better the chance of saving the tooth. The damage will only get worse over time, and it allows bacteria to enter the softer layer of tissue under the enamel and the soft inner part of the tooth. From there, it spreads, and an abscess – a pocket of infected material – can form.

In some cases, an abscess causes pain, but in other cases, it can go unnoticed if your broken tooth isn’t treated. The infection can spread to other parts of your body, which can cause serious complications.

If you have a broken tooth, call or stop by one of Dental365’s convenient metro New York offices today. We’re open seven days a week and are also available for emergency services when you need us. Fill out the form on this page to request an appointment or call 844-365-DENTAL to learn more.


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