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David M. Rizk, DDS

Is a Chipped Tooth a Dental Emergency? 

added on: March 22, 2021

David M. Rizk, DDSWhether you chip your molar on a hidden popcorn kernel or have an unexpected accident that breaks a front tooth, you’ll want to get seen by your dentist in El Paso sooner rather than later. Early treatment is the best way to fix a cracked tooth before it has a chance to develop into potentially bigger problems. However, is a chipped or broken tooth a dental emergency? Let’s find out. 

Understanding Emergencies

Not every case of a broken tooth is a dental emergency, but there are some clear indicators of when a broken or cracked tooth needs emergency care. Some of the most common signs of a dental emergency include: 

  • A major fracture when a large piece of the tooth is missing
  • Intense dental pain
  • Bleeding that doesn’t stop

If you have any of the above, call your dentist in El Paso and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. 

Taking Care of a Cracked Tooth

If your symptoms aren’t severe or considered an emergency, you should still call your dentist to get an appointment as quickly as you can. While you wait, there are some things you can do at home to take care of a cracked tooth. 

  • Swish with warm saltwater. This can help remove bacteria and may even reduce swelling. 
  • Apply an ice pack to your cheek to further decrease swelling. However, never apply the ice pack itself directly to your face. Make sure there is a barrier between the skin and the ice. 
  • Use an over-the-counter dental anesthetic to keep the area numb. 
  • Take a pain reliever to reduce inflammation and minimize pain. Take only as directed and if your health allows for it. 

Know the Signs

It is possible to crack a tooth and not even know it. You may not even have any pain or notice any indication that there’s a problem. But untreated cracks can lead to bigger problems down the road which is why it’s important to see your dentist in El Paso twice a year. We can detect problems you may not be aware of while they’re still easy to treat and before they cause any pain. However, there are also times when it will be clear that you cracked a tooth. Some of the most common signs of a cracked tooth are: 

  • Discomfort while chewing
  • Tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, and sweet things
  • Pain that comes and goes

Treating a Cracked Tooth

Once your dentist in El Paso can thoroughly assess your cracked tooth, your specific treatment plan will depend on your needs. Some ways cracked teeth are fixed include: 

  • Bonding – A small crack will probably be treated with dental bonding. During this treatment, tooth-colored bonding resin is used to fill in all the cracks and will restore your tooth. 
  • Dental Crowns – Larger cracks may need to be capped with a dental crown. Crowns are custom-created to match your other teeth for a seamless restoration. 
  • Root Canal – Deep cracks that break into the inner tooth may require a root canal. A root canal will remove the inner tooth pulp, relieve pain, and protect the tooth from infection. 
  • Tooth Extraction – Severe tooth cracks that compromise the integrity of the inner and outer tooth may need to be extracted. But afterward, an extracted tooth may be fixed with a dental bridge or implant. 

Nobody ever wants to worry about a cracked tooth. But your dentist is here to help. Schedule an appointment today if you think you may have cracked a tooth or if it’s been longer than six months since your last dental checkup. 


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