Most people today are familiar with the American Dental Association and their recommendation to brush your teeth two times a day, and floss at least once a day. While brushing and flossing are necessary for good oral heath, these practices don't make teeth indestructible. Dentists see countless chipped and broken teeth every year. Some are only cosmetic and some can be devastating. With the various degrees of tooth fractions and treatments, dentists have created names for the different degrees. If you have a chipped tooth, keep reading to learn how severe the injury is and the best way to fix it:
The most minor type of broken tooth is a Class I fracture. With this type of fracture, only the enamel has been compromised. Enamel is the hard, outer layer of a tooth. If you have a Class I tooth fracture, then you are probably not experiencing any pain or discomfort. You should have your dentist look at the chipped tooth, but this isn't an emergency situation.
Treatment for a Class I tooth fracture involves filing the broken tooth to smooth any sharp edges. If you still have the piece of tooth that broke off, your dentist may be able to bond it back onto the tooth. Or, your dentist may use a plastic resin to fill in the tooth to bring it back to its original shape.
With a Class II fracture, the dentin is compromised. Dentin is the next layer under the enamel. Within the dentin layer, there are pores that run between the outer layer of the tooth and the nerves. These pores are like tunnels that allow air, food, and drink particles to reach the tooth nerves, making the tooth very sensitive to hot and cold.
If you have a Class II tooth fracture, expect to feel some pain that isn't associated with hot and cold sensitivity. This pain can be treated with over-the-counter medication. While still not a dental emergency, a Class II should be examined by your dentist. Treatment for this type of broken tooth includes smoothing sharp tooth edges with a file. The dentist may have to file a little more of the broken tooth to remove weakened tooth enamel. Next, an acid is applied to the fractured area to roughen it in preparation of bonding. A plastic resin is bonded to the tooth to restore it's natural shape. This resin will also seal the fracture to prevent tooth decay. After a good polish, no one will ever know you broke a tooth unless you tell them.
This is the most painful, drastic, and severe type of broken tooth. After a Class IIi fraction, the pink pulp in the center of the tooth is exposed. This is were the tooth's nerves and blood vessels are located. You can expect the tooth to bleed, in addition to feeling a high level of pain. With a Class III fracture, your open tooth is at risk for bacterial infection.
This is a dental emergency and you should get to your dentist as quickly as possible. The most common treatment for a Class III fracture is a root canal, which is when the blood vessels and nerves inside the tooth and roots are removed. The tooth is then packed with a medicated filling to kill any bacteria that got in there, and to also provide pain relief. You'll have to go back to the dentist a second time to have the tooth permanently filled and capped. A root canal is necessary in this situation to retain the broken tooth's integrity, prevent the other teeth from shifting, and to preserve your bite alignment.
While most cases of chipped and broken teeth aren't considered to be an emergency situation, a Class III fracture is. If not treated right away, your oral health and well-being will be compromised. It is imperative that no matter how severe your tooth fracture is, you have it examined by your dentist. If your current dentist can't fit you in, then look at this site and seek out another dentist in your area.