Generally quite obvious where the problem is, as the patient can detect a sharp area with the tongue. The affected area may or may not be sensitive to temperature.
Occasionally the tooth may be split and some parts of the tooth feel loose and sore to bite/eat on. There is no pain experienced during sleep. A broken filling may be the problem whilst the tooth is intact.
Most frequent teeth that break are the back teeth as these usually have large old fillings that have weakened the tooth. With lower teeth the tooth part adjacent to the tongue is commonly broken. Whereas top teeth, the outside corners break off.
It can occur by direct trauma to the tooth.
- Some patients like eating hard foods that require effort to chew
- A tooth weakened by having large fillings that make it more susceptible to fracture
- A patient with a heavy clenching/biting forces
If the tooth had a large filling and there remains less than 50% tooth structure, or the corner of the tooth is broken, the best treatment option is an ONLAY constructed from porcelain/ceramic.
So an onlay essentially replaces what is missing. There is no further unnecessary tooth cutting.
Remember the key to treatment is to minimise further tooth loss, and that way maintaining biological health.
If there is significant loss of tooth structure and it is not possible to make an onlay, then a crown is recommended. Occasionally a small tooth fracture can be repaired using a composite resin filling
The Dental examination will reveal the size of the fracture and how much of the tooth remains will determine the best treatment for the tooth. That is small filling, onlay or crown.
A broken tooth allows the nerves to be exposed and thus contaminated.
There is the potential for the nerve to die if left untreated.
So when the event happens, it is always good to have a temporary filling placed immediately, to cover exposed nerve areas. and to avoid root canal therapy.
A broken tooth is also lacking in proper chewing function, thus diminishing the ability to digest our food.