Just like bones in the body, teeth can also get fractured. Sometimes the word fracture is not used with regard to teeth, mostly chipped or cracked is the word associated with teeth. The severity of the damage of fractured teeth depends on how serious the fracture is and how it much it has affected the oral region.
Generally the word fracture is used by dentists which it has split vertically or when a portion of the tooth breaks off. When a portion of the teeth breaks away, it can be a smooth cut in the teeth or you can see jagged ends which can be quite painful as they would injure the soft tissues of the mouth. Pressure applied on the teeth can cause the teeth to break away or be fractured instantly or it can withstand pressure and gets fractured when the core structure of the teeth is affected completely.
Causes for Fracture
Accidents – Pressure is exerted on teeth when a person falls down or is involved in any accidents. Pressure on the teeth or oral area can force the teeth to be fractured.
Contact sports – When people engage in contact sports like skating, football or skiing – falling down and hurting oneself happens frequently. This can also lead to teeth getting fractured when they take the brunt of the injury.
Teeth grinding – Many people suffer from this problem. For some, the issue is very severe that they end up putting huge pressure on their teeth. A fracture can also result due to this.
Chewing hard food – When any type of food is consumed, the direct impact is often on the teeth. When hard food like ice or nuts is consumed, they can result in the teeth getting fractured.
When to seek help
When the word fracture is heard, people will associate it with complete breaking off as in the case of bones. But there are few things that one must consider in the case of dental fractures. In the case of tooth fractures, there are two extremes – where on one end there is chipping away off enamel and on the other extreme the fracture involves both enamel and dentine.
Teeth enamel can get affected and if there is a part lost in the enamel, it can be considered as a fracture. So it need not be that a considerable portion of the teeth is lost and then considered as a fracture, small chips in the teeth/enamel in this manner is also considered as a fracture.
If there are dental fillings procedure that has been on the teeth, then fractures can be seen around the filling, but the severity is less as the dental pulp does not get affected due to this.
Some fractures, reach the dental pulp area and the effect they have on the teeth is immense, affecting both the structure and function of the teeth.
This type of fracture can also cause a split in the tooth, and a single tooth can be divided into two segments. The treatment for this type of fracture is complex and it depends on the severity of the fracture to what section of the teeth can be saved.
Infection in the root area can progress towards the edge of the teeth. This can result in the whole teeth getting infected.
Dental Bonding – This is one the simplest cosmetic procedures which is done to repair chipped teeth. In this method, a tooth coloured resin is applied to the ‘crack’ on the teeth. This plastic resin will help to cover the damage and offer protection. Bonding materials are also added to it to make sure the fix is permanent.
Veneers – Veneers are placed over as a protective covering for the teeth. It is bonded to the front of the teeth thus making it look attractive. For the procedure, the teeth will be prepared so that a perfect fit is achieved after placing the veneers. Impressions of the teeth are also taken to ensure that the veneers offer correct protection to the teeth.
Crowns – Badly chipped teeth need help from dental crowns. The chipped or slightly fractured teeth are protected by having the crown placed over it. The appearance of the teeth is also improved by using this procedure. Additional pressure is not felt by the teeth and further damage of the chipped teeth is prevented by placing dental crowns.
Root Canal – For more serious fractures, where the damage has reached the pulp area of the teeth, then root canal treatment is suggested by the dentists. The affected pulp area is removed in this treatment and it is sealed to avoid more damage. By giving this protection to the teeth, the crack that has appeared on the teeth does not spread and the teeth are restored.
Dental Implant – If the fracture has progressed to a stage where teeth cannot be saved, then it needs to be removed. Else, this teeth can affect the surrounding gums or mouth tissues and the extent of damage is increased. Dental implants are placed after the teeth are removed. They act as new teeth in the place. They are fixed to the jaw bone and are thus fixed as permanent solutions.
Mentioned above are some of the procedures that are commonly conducted for fractures in the teeth. But if there is a doubt of fracture in the teeth or if a slight crack is noticed, then it is recommended that a consultation with the dentist is arranged at the earliest. Proper diagnosis and treatment are needed for tooth fractures. If there is a delay in receiving treatment, then there are chances that further ‘cracks’ develop on the teeth and maybe they would have to be removed permanently.
For maintaining good oral health and hygiene, it is recommended that dental consultations are done once every six months. This will help the dentist give a forecast of the dental health and also provide guidance on the steps that need to be in place for maintaining good oral health.