A cracked tooth filling can be an alarming discovery. It’s the kind of surprise that no one wants to encounter, particularly when you bite into your favourite food, and instead of savouring the flavour, you’re left grappling with an unexpected dental emergency.
Recognising the signs and understanding the immediate steps to take can be the difference between saving and losing a tooth. If you suspect you have a cracked or broken filling, here’s what you need to know.
Does a Cracked Tooth Always Mean It Needs to Be Pulled?
The good news is that a cracked tooth does not always necessitate an extraction. The decision to save or pull a tooth depends on the extent of the damage. If you’re suffering from a cracked or chipped tooth, timely intervention by a dentist can often save the tooth, preventing further damage or the need for more extensive treatments. However, you can always opt for a dental implant if the damaged tooth needs to be extracted.
Recognising the Signs of a Cracked or Broken Tooth Filling
Dental fillings are designed to restore the integrity of a tooth compromised by decay, but they aren’t indestructible. Over time, fillings can weaken, and a sudden crack might form. Signs of a broken tooth filling include:
- A sharp edge that you can feel with your tongue
- Sensitivity to cold temperatures or when consuming hot or hard foods
- Discomfort or pain when biting down
- Visible cracks or a missing piece when inspecting the tooth
If a broken filling exposes the inner layers of a tooth, you may also experience intense, throbbing pain as the sensitive tissue inside becomes vulnerable.
The Risks of Ignoring a Cracked Filling
Ignoring a damaged tooth or broken dental filling can result in more serious issues, including tooth decay, infections, or the need for a root canal treatment. A filling that falls out leaves your tooth exposed to bacteria and debris, increasing the risk of infection and decay. If left untreated, the whole tooth could become compromised, and the damage might spread to surrounding teeth.
First Aid for a Cracked or Broken Filling
When faced with a cracked or broken filling, it’s important to protect the affected area. Rinse your mouth using lukewarm water to clean the area, and use an ice pack to reduce swelling. Avoid chewing with the damaged tooth, especially hard foods that could exacerbate the problem.
If sharp edges are causing pain, dental cement available at pharmacies can be used as a temporary measure to cover the area until you can get to a dentist. Avoid home remedies or any temporary fixes that could cause further damage, such as using super glue or trying to remove any part of the cracked filling yourself.
When to Seek an Emergency Dental Appointment
A broken or cracked filling is an immediate dental emergency. Pain treatment at home can only offer temporary relief. An emergency dentist can assess the damage, provide pain relief, and determine the best course of action. If you’re experiencing severe pain or have a visible crack or break in a filling, it’s crucial to book an emergency dentist appointment as soon as possible.
Treatment Options: Dental Crowns, Fillings and Root Canals
Depending on how extensive the damage is, treatment options can vary. If the tooth’s structure remains largely intact, the dentist may remove the old filling and replace it with a new one. Composite fillings or amalgam fillings are commonly used materials for this purpose.
In cases where the damage is more extensive, a dental crown may be necessary to protect and reinforce the remaining tooth structure. When the crack extends into the root or the tooth is severely weakened, a root canal treatment may be needed to remove the damaged tissue and seal the tooth from further infection.
Prevention: Protecting Your Dental Fillings
The longevity of dental fillings can be extended with proper care. Avoid chewing ice cubes or hard foods that can cause stress on fillings. If you have old fillings, regular dentist appointments for check-ups can help catch any potential issues early on before they turn into emergencies. Composite resin fillings, which bond to the tooth, can be a good choice for front teeth or visible areas due to their natural appearance.
Professional Opinion and Continuous Care
If you’re unsure about the diagnosis or the recommended treatment, you should seek a professional’s opinion. Dental health is not to be taken lightly, and getting the best possible advice is your right as a patient.
For any signs of discomfort or damage to a filling, it’s advisable to see your dentist immediately. Even if there is no pain, a cracked or damaged filling should be addressed promptly to prevent further complications.
If you’re experiencing a dental emergency due to a cracked or broken tooth filling, don’t wait for the problem to escalate. Call Total Care Dental Studio at (07) 3186 8517 to book an appointment. Our team has the skills, experiences and resources needed to restore your smile and provide the care you need to keep dental dilemmas at bay.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.