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A Fractured Front Tooth

May 25th, 2012

There are many times when a patient comes to the dental office seeking treatment for a fractured front tooth.  The causes are varied, with direct trauma from an accident or  a sports related injury, or tooth structure weakened by decay, being common culprits. Improper habits like fingernail biting, chewing on pen caps, and “using your teeth as tools” can also easily lead to a fractured front tooth.  The treatment ranges from a simple smoothing of a “small chip” to the need for root canal therapy and a full crown, depending on the severity of the fracture and the extent of damage to the tooth.
Composite bonding is a very common and successful way to treat many of these fractures.  During a one visit office procedure, the tooth is restored to proper form and function by the direct application of a plastic resin.  This composite resin is made to adhere to the tooth and harden through a series of relatively easy technical steps.  There are many shades of dental composite available, so that esthetic results are usually excellent.  After final shaping and polishing, the restoration will look and feel as good as the original tooth.
In cases where the damage is more extensive, your dentist will recommend a crown as a permanent restoration.  Depending on the esthetic and functional needs, the crowns can be made of the traditional metal and porcelain combination for the best strength, or increasingly, crowns of all ceramic materials are available.  The newer ceramics are quite strong and extremely esthetic.
In cases where the nerve of the tooth is compromised, root canal therapy may be needed.  Following root canal treatment, the dentist will often place a post in the tooth for strength and anchorage and then build up a filling as a core or foundation for the crown.
If the fracture is under the gum line, other procedures might be needed.  It is critical that the area of the tooth where the crown ends be reachable.  To have this happen, sometimes a small surgical procedure is required to expose the area.
The important thing to remember is that fractured front teeth can be fixed, enabling you to once again flash your smile proudly.  Please see your dentist as soon as possible after the fracture occurs.

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