Broken Tooth and Infection


When a tooth is chipped it is important to consult a dentist as soon as possible. Serious complications including unnecessary pain and infection can arise when treatment is delayed. Failure to promptly seek treatment will only serve to allow the problem to worsen or become infected.


Untreated Chipped Teeth


Until the chip is treated the tooth is vulnerable to infection and further chipping or fracturing. If an infection develops, it may spread through the mouth to the neck and head, leading to further medical issues which in worst-case scenarios may become life-threatening. Meeting with a dentist quickly after chipping a tooth will help to reduce the chances of infection and will ensure that the chip does not erode further and require more intense treatments.


Necessity of Professional Treatment


When a tooth is chipped, pain is the first symptom a patient will experience although not all chipped teeth are painful. While over the counter medications may sometimes help to alleviate pain, a dentist will be able to prescribe stronger painkillers (or antibiotics in the event of infection).

Without a dental professional’s analysis, any pain a patient is experiencing will likely continue or worsen.

A dentist will also be able to determine the extent of the injury. Some chips are merely superficial, but oftentimes a chip is deeper or more extensive than first meets the eye. The pulp of the tooth is the portion that contains blood vessels and nerves. When a chip is large enough that the pulp is exposed or otherwise compromised, bacteria from the mouth can infiltrate and reproduce in the pulp, causing infection. A trained professional is often required to determine that such an event has occurred. Symptoms such as pain, sensitivity to heat, or color change can help diagnose such damage. Pulp tissue can die or be permanently damaged when infected after a chipped tooth.


Treatment Options

The most frequent treatment for compromised dental pulp is root canal therapy. This procedure entails eliminating damaged or infected pulp tissue and then applying a sealant to the affected area. For most minor chips, fractures, or cracks, dental bonding or filling will repair the damage. When only a smaller portion of the enamel is chipped, a filling will usually suffice to fix the issue. Larger breaks will require a dental crown. Dental bonding is the best choice for small cracks to the front of a tooth.

Managing Pain at Home

There are a number of steps to take while you wait to see your dentist to reduce your discomfort. Rinsing with salt water will help to clean the area, reduce bacteria, and generally soothe the pain associated with a broken tooth. You can also take over the counter pain relievers such as NSAIDs (unless contraindicated) to help with any inflammation. If you cannot take NSAIDs, acetaminophen may help relieve some pain. Covering the sharp edges of a chipped or broken tooth with dental wax can prevent further damage to the tooth and prevent cuts or abrasions to other parts of your mouth. If dental wax is not available, sugar free gum can be used. It is also important to keep from biting down with the affected tooth, so sticking to a soft food or liquid diet is also recommended until you can be seen by your dentist.

Half My Tooth Broke Off