Broken Wisdom Tooth

Broken Wisdom Tooth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Wisdom teeth, also known as third molars, are the last set of teeth to emerge in the mouth, typically appearing between the ages of 17 and 25. While some individuals may never experience issues with their wisdom teeth, others may encounter various problems, including broken wisdom teeth. At Beecroft Smiles Dental Surgery, we understand the importance of addressing broken wisdom teeth promptly to prevent further complications and ensure optimal oral health.

broken wisdom tooth

What Causes a Wisdom Tooth to Break?

Several factors can contribute to a broken wisdom tooth:

  • Decay: Wisdom teeth are often difficult to clean due to their location at the back of the mouth. This can lead to a build-up of plaque and bacteria, resulting in decay that weakens the tooth structure.
  • Trauma: Accidents, sports injuries, or biting down on hard objects can cause a wisdom tooth to crack or break.
  • Impaction: When a wisdom tooth doesn’t have enough space to emerge properly, it may grow at an angle or become trapped beneath the gum line. This can make the tooth more susceptible to breakage.
  • Natural wear and tear: Over time, wisdom teeth may become worn down or weakened, increasing the risk of breakage.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Inadequate brushing and flossing can lead to decay and weaken the tooth structure.

Recognising the Symptoms of a Broken Wisdom Tooth

Identifying a broken wisdom tooth early is crucial for prompt treatment. Common symptoms include:

  • Sharp or throbbing pain in the affected area
  • Sensitivity when biting or chewing
  • A rough patch or hole in the tooth that can be felt with the tongue
  • Changes in the colour or shape of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness in the surrounding gums

It’s important to note that not all broken wisdom teeth cause immediate pain. In some cases, a broken tooth may not expose the nerve structure, resulting in no discomfort. However, this doesn’t mean the issue should be ignored, as there is still a high risk of infection.

The Importance of Prompt Treatment

A broken wisdom tooth should be considered a dental emergency, as it can lead to various complications if left untreated:

  • Infection: Bacteria can easily enter the tooth through the broken area, potentially causing an infection in the tooth, surrounding gums, or even spreading to other parts of the body.
  • Severe pain: As the infection progresses, you may experience intense pain and discomfort.
  • Cyst formation: In some cases, an infection can lead to the development of a cyst around the broken tooth.
  • Difficulty in mouth movement: Swelling and infection can make it challenging to open and close your mouth comfortably.
  • Risk of sepsis: In rare cases, an untreated infection can spread to other parts of the body, leading to a potentially life-threatening condition called sepsis.

Treatment Options for a Broken Wisdom Tooth

At Beecroft Smiles Dental Surgery, we offer personalised treatment plans based on the severity of the break and your individual needs. The most common treatment options include:

1. Extraction

In most cases, removing the broken wisdom tooth is the recommended course of action. This is because wisdom teeth often don’t serve a crucial function in the mouth, and their removal can prevent future complications.

The extraction process typically involves:

  • Simple extraction: For teeth that have fully emerged, the dentist will numb the area with local anaesthetic and remove the tooth using specialised tools.
  • Complex extraction: If the tooth is impacted or only partially emerged, a more involved procedure may be necessary. This might require making an incision in the gum and possibly sectioning the tooth for easier removal.

2. Repair

In some cases, particularly if the break is minor, it may be possible to repair the tooth:

  • Filling: For small breaks or cavities, a dental filling may be sufficient to restore the tooth’s structure.
  • Crown: If a larger portion of the tooth is damaged, a dental crown might be used to cover and protect the remaining tooth structure.

However, it’s important to note that repair options are less common for wisdom teeth due to their location and the potential for future complications.

Recovery and Aftercare

Following wisdom tooth extraction, proper aftercare is essential for a smooth recovery:

  • Rest: Take it easy for the first 24-48 hours after the procedure.
  • Ice packs: Apply ice packs to the outside of your cheek to reduce swelling.
  • Soft foods: Stick to soft foods and liquids for the first few days.
  • Oral hygiene: Follow your dentist’s instructions for cleaning the extraction site to prevent infection.
  • Avoid certain activities: Refrain from smoking, using straws, or engaging in strenuous activities for at least a week.

Preventing Broken Wisdom Teeth

While not all cases of broken wisdom teeth can be prevented, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk:

  • Regular dental check-ups: Routine visits to Beecroft Smiles Dental Surgery allow us to monitor your wisdom teeth and address any issues early.
  • Good oral hygiene: Brush twice daily, floss regularly, and use an antiseptic mouthwash to maintain optimal oral health.
  • Protective gear: If you participate in contact sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from trauma.
  • Avoid hard foods: Be cautious when eating hard foods like nuts, ice, or hard sweets that could potentially crack a tooth.
  • Consider early removal: In some cases, your dentist may recommend removing wisdom teeth before they cause problems, especially if X-rays show they may become impacted.

When to Seek Emergency Dental Care

If you suspect you have a broken wisdom tooth, it’s crucial to seek professional dental care promptly. Contact Beecroft Smiles Dental Surgery immediately if you experience:

  • Severe pain that doesn’t subside with over-the-counter pain relievers
  • Significant swelling in your cheek or jaw
  • Difficulty opening your mouth or swallowing
  • Signs of infection, such as fever or pus discharge

Remember, even if you’re not experiencing pain, a broken wisdom tooth should still be evaluated by a dentist to prevent potential complications.

The Beecroft Smiles Dental Surgery Approach

We provide compassionate, high-quality dental care for all your oral health needs, including broken wisdom teeth. We understand that dental emergencies can be stressful, which is why we offer:

  • Prompt appointments for dental emergencies
  • Comprehensive evaluations to determine the best course of treatment
  • State-of-the-art technology for accurate diagnoses and effective treatments
  • Clear explanations of your treatment options and associated costs
  • A comfortable, welcoming environment to ease any dental anxiety

We believe in a preventive approach to dental care, which is why we encourage regular check-ups and cleanings. These routine visits allow us to monitor your wisdom teeth and other oral health aspects, potentially catching issues before they become emergencies.