What to do When a Tooth Breaks
Teeth are composed of the hardest substance in the body. However, they are not immune to damage. A broken tooth can happen to anyone. Accidents are a leading cause of broken teeth, but sometimes a seemingly harmless activity can also cause tooth breakage. A broken tooth will always require a crown to repair it. Sometimes a root canal may be needed, too. Common reasons for tooth breakage include:
- Chewing ice
- Using the teeth for another purpose other than chewing food
- Biting down on hard candies and food items such as caramel corn
- Fights and certain sports
- Amalgam fillings
Amalgam Tooth Fillings
Amalgam tooth fillings have been largely replaced by composite fillings in recent years. However, amalgam fillings are still placed today, and many older persons have amalgam fillings in their teeth. Amalgam fillings are also known as silver fillings, although they are not made of pure silver. Amalgam fillings are composed of about half mercury, which has a silvery color. Other metals present in amalgam fillings are typically tin and copper.
Mercury is a toxic substance. There is much controversy over the safety of amalgam fillings due to their high mercury content. If you’re concerned about your amalgam fillings, speak to your dentist. These fillings can be removed and replaced with a safer filling material at any time.
Amalgam fillings can cause teeth to break and crack. This is because mercury is extremely sensitive and reactive to temperature. Think of the old thermometers. They had beads of mercury in a small bulb at the bottom of the thermometer. This mercury would react with the temperature in the patient’s mouth to give a reading of the patient’s body temperature.
The same thing happens in a tooth with an amalgam filling. The mercury in the filling expands and contracts as the mouth temperature changes. Think about eating hot foods and drinking icy drinks. Over time, this expansion and contraction can cause a tooth to break.
Remedy for a Broken Tooth
If you experience a broken tooth, do not ignore it. Make a dental appointment right away. Avoid chewing on the broken area as much as possible in the interim. You can’t fix a broken tooth yourself. It’s best just to get in to see your dentist as soon as possible. Broken teeth can’t always be prevented. Do what you can to avoid the common causes of a broken tooth.