Breaking a Tooth — It’s Not Just for Hockey Players

Even if you or your child doesn’t play hockey, there’s still a chance that somebody in your family will have a tooth broken or knocked out. Sports do cause a lot of toothless smiles, but so do car accidents, falls, fights, and even biting on hard food. What a lot of people don’t realize (probably in part to the shock of losing a tooth) is that your dentist can save it if you can get yourself and your tooth to your Colorado Springs dentist quickly.

If a tooth gets knocked out, handle it only by the crown, or chewing edge. Try not to touch the root. If you can put it back in the socket and bite on some gauze or a wet tea bag, this is best. Be careful not to swallow the tooth accidentally. If you cannot replace the tooth in the socket, put it in a small container and cover it with whole milk or saliva. You can also carry the tooth between the lower lip and lower gum or under the tongue. Applying a cold compress or ice bag to the mouth and gums can reduce the pain. Use gauze to apply pressure to the wound to control the bleeding and get dental help as soon as possible. The faster you do, the greater the chance for your dentist to successfully reimplant  the tooth.

You might want to add a tooth-saving storage device (most include a travel case and some fluid) to your first-aid kit. You can get one from your dentist.

There are three things you do NOT want to do with a knocked out (or avulsed) tooth:

  1.  Do NOT handle it by the root — handle only the chewing edge or crown.
  2.  Do NOT scrape the root of the tooth to remove any dirt or foreign objects.
  3.  Do NOT brush or clean the tooth with alcohol or peroxide, regardless of where it landed.

A broken (or fractured tooth) can be repaired usually with a crown, onlay, or a three-quarter crown. Minor cracks, also called “craze lines,” only affect the enamel and rarely need treatment. However, we can lightly polish the area to smooth out any rough spots. Beyond the minor cracks, dentists use the Ellis Classification System to determine the severity of the fracture.

  • Class 1 includes chips or fractures in the outer enamel layer only.
  • Class 2 features fractures into the dentin layer of the tooth.
  • Class 3 is denoted by fractures into the pulp of the tooth.
  • Class 4 involves fractures onto the root, often vertical fractures in the tooth.

In all but Class 1 fractures, a full dental crown, a parital crown or an onlay are all viable options. Dr. Hall can help you decide which option is best for your tooth specifically.  If there is damage to the tooth nerve, a root canal is probably in order.

In some extreme cases, such as a vertical split or split root, the root cannot be saved. In these instances, the tooth may have to be removed and a bridge or dental implants are used to replace it.

If you or a family member lose a tooth or break one and feel sensitivity to cold, call us right away at 719-481-8250. For non-emergencies, please make an appointment to see Dr. Hall, a dentist in Colorado Springs, by clicking here. We look forward to keeping your smile bright.


Dr. Andrew Hall DMD

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