When you visit the dentist with the complaint of a broken tooth, the dentist will try to restore the tooth. But the opposite happens when you go with the complaint of a broken wisdom tooth. Your dentist will probably ask you to get it removed.
If the wisdom tooth helps you in chewing and eating, then your dentist will try to restore it, but if the wisdom tooth is not of much use, then he will ask you to get the tooth extracted.
Why does this happen? Let us understand the damage an untreated broken wisdom tooth can cause serious side effects such as infection, decay and, gum disease.
Causes of broken wisdom teeth
You may end up with a fractured wisdom tooth due to an accident, such as sporting injuries, car crash, etc., weakness caused by illness, and severe decay.
When you have a broken tooth, you must visit the dentist at the earliest even if you don’t feel pain. If you leave the tooth untreated, then it will cause damage in the future.
Consequences of untreated broken wisdom teeth
Third molars are generally located in an inaccessible region in the mouth making it difficult to clean the tooth. Besides if you have a broken wisdom tooth in your mouth, it becomes even more difficult to prevent food and plaque accumulation in the tooth.
A fractured wisdom tooth is at an increased risk of decay. If your tooth broke due to injury and the nerves are destroyed you will not feel any pain. But that doesn’t mean that your tooth is not doing any damage. The broken tooth can decay and develop a cavity.
Broken third molar can cause decay in the adjacent second molar tooth. The cavity in the second molar will cause pain, and you may have to get both teeth removed in case of extensive decay.
Restoring a broken wisdom tooth usually has a poor prognosis. Hence it is better if instead of restoration you get the tooth removed.
The poor prognosis is due to the location of the third molar which makes it difficult to keep the tooth clean. If you aren’t able to keep the tooth clean, then there will be decay beneath the restoration.
Root canal therapy and placing of a crown also don’t make much sense if you have the other two molars intact. When your first and second molar teeth are intact, the third molar doesn’t have any role to play.
A broken wisdom tooth is difficult to clean. Food debris gets stuck in the damaged part of the tooth and plaque accumulates easily.
Plaque accumulation can cause periodontal problems in the wisdom tooth, and the gum problem is not limited to only the broken wisdom tooth but spreads and affects other teeth also.
If you have a broken wisdom tooth, then tissue can grow into the gap or over the fractured wisdom tooth. In between this overgrown flap of tissue and the tooth plaque, bacteria accumulates which causes damage to the gums, bone destruction and also damage to the second molar.
You may be unaware of the developing gum problem and by the time you visit the dentist, your second molar is also affected. You may end up losing two teeth because of one untreated broken wisdom tooth.
Submandibular space infection
The most severe complication of a broken wisdom tooth is an infection which affects the submandibular space and can cause a life-threatening situation.
The infection spreads rapidly and affects both the sides of the submandibular region in the neck including the sublingual space.
Infection of the third and second molars is a common cause of submandibular infection. If you have a broken third molar, it may become infected and cause space infection.
Submandibular space infection is also known as Ludwig’s angina, which is acute cellulitis of the submandibular and sublingual space.
- Symptoms of Ludwig’s angina include pain, difficulty in swallowing, airway obstruction and death (in case of delay in treatment).
- Clinical symptoms also include firmness of the floor of mouth, induration, trismus, and elevation of the posterior tongue against the floor of the mouth which causes airway obstruction.
- Clinical diagnosis of Ludwig’s angina is enough in majority cases. In case the swelling is not evident, then a CT scan will help reach a diagnosis.
- Treatment protocol of Ludwig’s angina includes maintaining the airway, drainage of the abscess and antibiotics treatment.
- Oral intubation is not possible in Ludwig’s angina patients, the doctor will do nasotracheal intubation under local anesthesia, and the patient should be conscious or awake (preferably).
- Incision and drainage of the pus help relieve pressure and give some respite from the swelling.
- Antibiotic therapy should cover both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, and high dose antibiotics are given to control the infection.
Treatment of broken wisdom teeth
The treatment of wisdom tooth includes rethe moval of the tooth in majority cases. You should get the status of your teeth evaluated and if your dentist thinks that the tooth can be restored then well and good.
But if your dentist advises removal of tooth then do not delay treatment.
Over to you
Many people go years with a broken tooth and experience no problem at all. Some people end up with submandibular space infection or decay.
You cannot be sure as to which side you will be, so it is better to get treatment when the damage is minimal.