Why are My Teeth Breaking All of a Sudden?

by | Jun 19, 2023 | General Orthodontics, Orthodontic Treatments, Popular Posts, tooth sensitivity | 0 comments

Once upon a time, Maria’s dazzling smile could light up any room — until one fateful day, when she found herself in a battle of tooth versus crouton. The crouton emerged victorious, leaving Maria with two broken teeth and a quest to recover her perfect smile. Why are my teeth breaking so easily, she wondered, considering that her teeth have always been hard as a rock!

Luckily, she stumbled across Patuxent Orthodontics, where the skilled team led by Dr. Richard J. Lee, MD, wields various treatment options for broken teeth. Soon enough, Maria’s radiant smile was ready to conquer the world once more!

What is a Chipped or Broken Tooth?

Ah, the chipped or broken tooth — a dental misadventure that can mess with the most brilliant and healthy smile. When our pearly whites decide to rebel against us, they can chip or break due to anything —from biting into the world’s hardest granola bar to a surprise meeting between our teeth and the sidewalk. The result? A jagged work of art that leaves our tongues puzzled and our smiles feeling incomplete.

But worry not, for every chipped or broken tooth is just an opportunity for dental experts to mend our precious outer enamel and help us regain our confidence. So, the next time you find yourself with a chipped or broken tooth, remember — even the most beautiful sculptures sometimes need a little touch-up!

What Parts of the Tooth are More Susceptible to Breaking?

Our teeth are made up of multiple layers and components, but some parts are more prone to cracking than others. The most vulnerable parts of a tooth to cracking are the chewing surfaces and the cusps, as they endure significant pressure and wear from daily activities like biting and chewing.

The chewing surfaces of molars and premolars are particularly susceptible to cracking because they have grooves and fissures that can harbor bacteria, leading to decay. Weakened enamel due to decay makes these surfaces more prone to fractures.

The cusps — i.e., the pointed parts on the biting surfaces of the teeth — are also at higher risk for cracking. That is because they bear the brunt of the force during chewing and grinding, making them susceptible to wear and tear over time.

Will a Cracked or a Broken Tooth Heal on Its Own?

Unfortunately, broken or cracked teeth will not heal on its own. Unlike other tissues in the body, tooth enamel does not regenerate or repair itself once damaged. This is because teeth comprise minerals like hydroxyapatite and lack living cells that can facilitate repair and regeneration.

If you have a cracked or broken tooth, it is essential to seek dental treatment as soon as possible. Ignoring the issue can lead to further complications, such as increased tooth sensitivity, pain, infection, and even tooth loss.

Depending on the severity of the damage, a dentist may recommend treatments like dental bonding, fillings, crowns, root canal therapy, or extraction to address the problem and restore the tooth’s function and appearance.

1. Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs when the bacteria in your mouth produce acids that break down the tooth enamel and dentin. Over time, this process forms cavities, weakening the tooth structure. As the decay progresses, it leads to the loss of material, making the tooth more prone to breaking under pressure from daily activities like chewing.

Patient undergoing dental inspection

2. Clenching or Grinding Teeth

Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, often occurring during sleep or periods of stress. This excessive force puts pressure on the teeth, causing them to crack or fracture over time. Prolonged bruxism can also lead to the wearing down of tooth surfaces, further weakening the tooth structure and increasing the risk of breakage.

3. Acid Erosion

Acid erosion refers to the loss of tooth enamel due to exposure to acidic substances. Consuming acidic foods and beverages, such as citrus fruits, soda, and wine, gradually erode the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to breaking. Certain medical conditions, such as acid reflux or bulimia, also cause acid erosion by exposing the teeth to stomach acids during regurgitation.

4. Trauma or Injury

Accidents, sports injuries, or other forms of trauma can cause direct damage to the oral cavity, resulting in chips, cracks, fractures, or knocked-out teeth.

5. Poor Oral Hygiene

Neglecting proper oral hygiene can lead to a buildup of plaque and tartar, causing gum disease and tooth decay. As a result, teeth become more vulnerable to breaking due to weakened support structures and tooth material loss.

As you age, your teeth naturally become weaker and more prone to breakage. Years of wear and tear, combined with changes in the production of saliva and a reduction in the tooth’s natural ability to repair itself, increase the risk of serious dental health issues, including broken teeth.

What to Do if You Have a Chipped or Broken Tooth

If you have a chipped tooth, it is essential to take the following steps to ensure proper care and avoid further complications:

  1. Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the affected area and remove any debris.
  2. If bleeding, apply gentle pressure using a clean gauze or cloth. Keep the pressure on until the bleeding stops.
  3. Use a cold compress or ice pack wrapped in a cloth to the outside of your cheek near the chipped tooth. This can help reduce swelling and relieve pain.
  4. If you’re experiencing pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen as directed on the label.
  5. Until you can see a dentist, avoid eating hard, crunchy, or sticky foods that may cause further damage to the chipped tooth. Stick to soft foods and chew on the opposite side of your mouth.
  6. If the chipped tooth has a sharp or jagged edge, cover it with sugar-free gum or dental wax to protect your tongue and cheeks from cuts.
  7. Contact your dentist as soon as possible to have the chipped tooth examined and treated.

Available Treatment Options for Broken Teeth

The treatment for broken teeth depends on the severity of the break and the overall condition of the affected tooth. Several treatment options are available, and your dental professional will determine the most appropriate course of action based on your specific case.

Orthodontic specialist and patient

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is a simple dental procedure used to treat minor chips or fractures. A tooth-colored resin material is applied to the damaged area and shaped to match the natural contours of the tooth. The resin is then hardened using a special curing light. Dental bonding is a quick and cost-effective solution for minor tooth damage.

Dental Fillings

Dental fillings repair moderately damaged teeth, such as those with more significant fractures or cavities. The dentist first removes the damaged part of the tooth and then fills the cavity with filling material, such as composite resin or amalgam. This restores the tooth’s structure and helps prevent further damage or decay.

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are used for more severe damage or when a significant portion of the tooth structure is lost. A crown is a custom-made cap that covers the entire visible part of the tooth, protecting it from further damage and restoring its function and appearance.

The dentist first prepares the tooth by removing any decay and reshaping it to accommodate the crown. Next, an impression of the tooth is taken, and the crown is fabricated in a dental lab. Finally, a temporary crown is placed while the permanent one is made. Once the permanent crown is ready, it is cemented onto the prepared tooth.

Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment may be necessary if the tooth’s pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, is exposed or infected due to the break. 

During a root canal procedure, the dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp tissue, cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth, and then fills and seals the tooth with a rubber-like material. Finally, a dental crown is placed over the treated tooth to protect and restore its function.

Tooth Extraction

Extraction becomes necessary during dental emergencies — when the tooth is severely damaged or cannot be saved. The dentist removes the broken tooth and, depending on the situation, may recommend a dental implant, bridge, or denture to replace the missing tooth and restore function and aesthetics.

Happy patient with a perfect smile

Dealing With Broken or Chipped Teeth? Patuxent Orthodontics Can Help!

Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if orthodontic treatment is the solution to your dental woes. Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of orthodontic treatment or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a complimentary orthodontic consultation! Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in Hollywood, Wildewood, or Leonardtown and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in Maryland, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining your perfect smile and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!

References

  1. “Dental Fillings.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, www.nidcr.nih.gov/health-info/dental-fillings. Accessed 28 Apr. 2023.
  2. Jayasudha, et al. “Enamel Regeneration – Current Progress and Challenges.” Journal of Clinical and Diagnostic Research : JCDR, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Sept. 2014, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4226000/. Accessed 28 Apr. 2023.
  3. “Learn More about Dental Bonding for Your Teeth.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/dental-bonding. Accessed 28 Apr. 2023.

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