A broken tooth can be a very traumatic experience. Unfortunately, as far as dental emergencies go, a broken tooth is among the most common. The severity can range from a small chip to a full fracture.
A tooth breaking off at the gumline is one of the most serious kinds of dental accidents. You need to visit a dentist as soon as possible or go to the hospital if a dentist isn’t available.
There might be different underlying causes behind your broken tooth and varying levels of pain depending on the severity of the break. You might even need an emergency extraction if the tooth is in a dangerous condition.
Read on to find out exactly what you need to do if your tooth is broken at the gumline.
Identifying a Tooth Broken off at the Gumline
The best way to identify a broken tooth is simply to look at it. However, sometimes the placement of the tooth might prevent you from getting a good look at it without any tools or lights.
In that case, try feeling the tooth with your tongue first. If the edge of the tooth is jagged and sharp and close to the gumline, you definitely have a broken tooth on your hands. You might even taste blood as the blood vessels in the tooth will be bleeding.
If you are able to see the tooth, the exposed insides of the tooth will look pink or yellow. If you see anything brown or black inside your tooth, it can be a sign of tooth decay.
When you experience intense, piercing pain in the tooth, it means that nerves and the inner pulp of the tooth are exposed.
What You Should Do
You should immediately visit the dentist if you have a broken tooth. There are no exceptions—book an emergency appointment with a dentist immediately. If you don’t have access to a dentist, go to the hospital.
When teeth are broken off at the gumline, they may require extraction. It depends on individual cases, but you need immediate medical attention to determine the best course of action.
There are several different ways to treat a broken tooth. It depends on how soon you are able to get to the dentist and how deep the break is. Teeth that are broken beyond the gumline will likely need to be extracted.
If the break is clean and you have the broken piece of tooth with you, it might be possible to reattach it. A bonding agent is used to stick the pieces together.
This is a very satisfactory option as the colour and texture will match, and nobody will be able to tell the difference. It might even be used in conjunction with a root canal if the break is deeper.
A root canal is a procedure where the inner pulp of the tooth is removed, and a filling is put in its place instead. It is usually done when the pulp of the tooth is infected.
Since the broken tooth will leave the inside of the tooth exposed, it will be very painful and vulnerable to infection. A root canal will save you a lot of pain, and the remaining part of the tooth will stay safe.
Extrusion is used when the tooth is broken below the gumline. Your dentist will fit you with braces or aligners that exert pressure on the remaining piece of tooth to pull it above the gumline.
Once the tip of the tooth emerges above the gumline, the dentist will install a crown. Extrusion can take some time as it is a very slow process.
Crown or Filling
A crown is a makeshift cap that covers the exposed pulp of the tooth. It blends with the rest of the tooth and acts as an artificial replacement for the piece that broke off.
Fillings can be used to repair minor damage. A resin that matches the colour of your teeth is used to mend the broken tooth. However, this method cannot be used if the tooth is broken beyond the gumline.
If repair is not possible, which usually happens in cases where the tooth is broken far beyond the gumline, the dentist will extract the remaining piece of tooth.
Different replacement options like dentures, implants, or dental bridges can be considered depending on the individual.
Having a tooth break off at the gumline is a precarious position to be in. You need to rush to a dentist as soon as possible if you want to have a greater chance of saving your tooth.
There are several courses of treatment available to you, but most people prefer to preserve the natural tooth if possible. If not, you can consider dentures or dental bridges.