Our teeth are made from enamel – one of the hardest substance in the body. Usually, tooth decay and cavity formation may weaken the tooth enamel. Biting on hard food, sports injury, and accidental blow o the mouth are some of the cases that can lead to fracture of the tooth. (1)
A broken tooth is very painful, especially if they involve the pulp tissue. Often, in the case of broken teeth, the pulp tissue becomes inflamed or infected, leading to excruciating pain. Although a dentist can treat broken teeth. However, in emergency cases, you can temporarily relieve the discomfort by following simple steps.
Steps to relieve pain from a broken tooth
It is not necessary that the broken tooth may cause pain in every case. However, it is better always to be prepared to tackle such situations. Often, broken teeth have sharp edges that can cause injury to the surrounding soft tissue.
If you have a broken tooth, call your dentist immediately and book an appointment. Meanwhile, you can follow the steps given below –
Rinse your mouth
Gently rinse your mouth to clean the tooth surface and remove any debris or broken tooth particles. Use plain, warm, or saline water. Do not swish too hard. Gently spit the water out. This helps to avoid infection and increase in pain. (2)
Reduce the swelling
If you notice facial swelling around the affected area, apply an ice pack for at least 15 minutes. Cover the ice cubes in a clean towel and hold it over the swollen part of the face. Often, facial swelling caused by accidental sports injury takes a few days to improve.
Place a clean gauze inside the mouth near the affected area. Apply gentle pressure to stop the bleeding from tissues. Keep replacing the gauze with a fresh one whenever it fills with blood. (3)
Avoid hard and chewy food
Broken teeth are sensitive to different food texture and temperature. Therefore you must avoid –
- Acidic foods and beverages such as soda, alcohol, tea, and coffee
- Cold drinks that may lead to tooth sensitivity
- Sticky food that can get stuck in the tooth such as nuts and celery
- Chewy food such as gum, candy, and steak (4)
- Fruits with seeds such as raspberry and strawberry
- Sugary food and beverages
Change your diet to a nutritious and soft diet such as smoothies, roasted vegetables, and soup. While chewing, make sure you eat from the other side of the mouth.
Anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen are useful in subsiding the pain and swelling. Never apply topical pain relievers on the gum tissue as it may lead to irritation and increase the discomfort.
Avoid benzocaine containing products, especially for children below the age of two years.
Professional dental treatment
Visit the dentist for a dental examination. The dentist usually identifies and determines the signs and symptoms to plan appropriate treatment. In most cases, broken teeth with pulp damage are treated with root canal therapy.
In this dental procedure, the infected pulp tissue is removed, cleaned, and replaced with a rubber-like material called the gutta-percha. The tooth is later restored with a dental crown or bridge to strengthen the tooth structure. (5)
Severe cases of broken teeth that cannot be repaired may be scheduled for extraction and appropriate replacement of the missing tooth.
Prevention of broken teeth
It is always best to avoid situations that can lead to tooth damage and dental injury. Some of the preventive measures are as follows –
- Avoid biting on hard foods like nuts and hard candies
- Quit the habit of a chewing pencil or pen caps
- Follow the post-treatment instructions after root canal therapy
- If there are any fractured filling or old restorations, book a dental appointment to get it replaced
- Use night guard to prevent teeth grinding
- Use mouth guard during sports activities