When Is a Broken Tooth a Dental Emergency?

A broken tooth can have a considerable impact on your appearance, especially when that tooth is in your smile zone. Depending on what you do for a living, this in itself could constitute a dental emergency—a cosmetic one. However, in terms of your dental health, breaking a tooth isn't necessarily a serious issue.

It depends on several factors. If you have just broken a tooth, use the following information to determine if you need to book yourself an appointment with an emergency dentist.

Deep Cracks Require Emergency Treatment

Dentists refer to cracked teeth, especially severely cracked teeth, as 'cracked tooth syndrome'. These types of cracks are serious because they put the nerve that inhabits the centre of a tooth in danger. Tooth nerves keep your teeth nourished with blood and nutrients, and although they aren't essential to adult teeth, their loss can lead to several serious health issues.

If a crack extends into the centre of a tooth, the nerve, which is connected to the rest of your body via blood vessels that emanate from the root tip, will be exposed. Even if you can't see the exposed nerve, you'll soon be able to feel it. This is because anything you eat or drink could penetrate the crack and come into contact with the nerve, irritating it. If a nerve becomes sufficiently irritated, it will soon become infected. Infected nerves eventually die. Once they die, the break in your tooth will allow bacteria to invade and cause an infection that could lead to a dangerous abscess.

So if you have a severe crack, this is a dental emergency.

A Snapped Tooth Is a Dental Emergency

If you have snapped a tooth, something that commonly happens to front teeth, such as incisors or canines, you should consider this a dental emergency. As with the above example, snapping a tooth can expose the nerve. Even if the nerve isn't fully exposed, the tiny tubules contained in the layer of dentin below the enamel layer will provide bacteria and food particles with access to the nerve.

Again, while you might not experience pain immediately, it won't be long before the nerve becomes infected. Once infected, it could take hours or days for the nerve to die. During this time, you will experience toothache and flu-like symptoms. However, once the tooth dies, you'll have a bundle of dead tissue rotting inside your tooth.

This dead tissue will cause an abscess to form inside the tooth, an abscess that could spread the infection throughout your body if left untreated. This is a dental emergency.

Don't Wait for the Pain to Call an Emergency Dentist

If you wait too long to book an emergency dental appointment, you could lose the tooth nerve and the tooth. However, if you act quickly and book your appointment on the same day as your accident, a dentist may be able to treat the tooth and seal it before infection can set in.

Have you broken a tooth? Make sure you examine it thoroughly before putting off dental treatment.