If you have the misfortune of breaking a tooth, the first thing you should do is call your dentist. In most instances, your dentist will recommend repairing your tooth, but you may be surprised at the recommended treatment options when you have a broken wisdom tooth.
Treatment for a Broken Tooth
When you have a broken tooth – and it's not a wisdom tooth – your dentist will examine your tooth and take X-rays to determine the seriousness of the break. In most cases, the tooth can be repaired with filling material. But if the break is more extensive, your dentist may have to build-up the tooth with filling material before fitting it with a crown. According to the American Dental Association (ADA) this gives the tooth more stability and keeps it from breaking again. In more severe situations, where the nerve and blood vessel (pulp) portion of the tooth is involved, you'll need root canal treatment before your dentist can make a crown.
Wisdom teeth, also called third molars, are the last teeth to develop. They usually make their appearance during your late teens and are located in the very back of your mouth, behind your second molars. Many times, wisdom teeth are impacted – meaning they don't have enough room to come in properly. In fact, the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons says that 9 out of 10 people have or have had at least one impacted wisdom tooth. With the potential for so many complications, most dentists recommend the removal of wisdom teeth during young adulthood before problems begin.
Treatment for a Broken Wisdom Tooth
When a wisdom tooth is broken, your dentist will consider many factors before deciding whether repairing the tooth is the best option for you. If the tooth is impacted and is not situated in the mouth so that it's helping you chew, your dentist will probably recommend removing it. If you have other wisdom teeth that are not positioned properly, interfering with your bite, or putting you at risk for gum disease or decay, your dentist will most likely talk to you about removing all of your wisdom teeth.
However, if you and your dentist decide that there are no complications with your broken wisdom tooth and it plays an important role in chewing, he or she may suggest repairing it with either a filling or a crown.
Keeping Wisdom Teeth Healthy
When your mouth is large enough to accommodate all of your wisdom teeth, and they're a functional part of your dentition, you'll want to keep them healthy. You may do a good job with home care, but it's easy to miss cleaning teeth that are located so far back in your mouth. So, be sure to get your toothbrush and floss back far enough to clean these teeth, and always use a fluoride toothpaste like Colgate® Enamel Health™. See your dentist for regular checkups, cleanings and X-rays, so that he or she can monitor your wisdom teeth for any changes.
Although you may have reached the age of wisdom (17 to 25), a broken wisdom tooth requires the expertise of your dentist for a good treatment recommendation. So, if your dentist says that your tooth cannot be repaired, and you need to have it removed – don't panic. It may be the wisest thing to do.