Wisdom teeth removal is a commonplace dental procedure. In fact, over 5 million are extracted every single year. Yet, even if you are one of the fortunate ones and your third molars erupt naturally, they can still be prone to cracking and breakage, just like any other teeth.
The question is… when a cracked or broken wisdom tooth occurs, is emergency dentistry needed?
The simple answer is yes. You should make an appointment at your local dentist immediately.
Because a cracked or broken tooth is an opportunity for bacteria to enter the tooth and wreak havoc. Wisdom teeth, in particular, aren’t easy to reach with a toothbrush at the best of times, so infections can quickly take hold. When they do they can cause further problems to your gums and jaw.
So even if you feel little or no pain and you believe that you have a cracked or broken wisdom tooth you should call your dentist right away.
The good news is that treatment might not always result in your wisdom tooth being removed. Instead, it depends upon the extent of the broken tooth and the damage it has caused.
Let’s take a closer look at what happens when you need emergency dentistry for a broken wisdom tooth.
The first thing your dentist will do upon seeing you is to give you a dental x-ray. This will determine the extent of the cracked or broken tooth. At this juncture, your dentist will also look at the positioning of your wisdom tooth or teeth to ascertain whether they are causing issues with your bite alignment. Or, if their deep location means that they could be at risk from plaque, bacteria, and of course, tooth decay. If the problematic tooth does appear to present additional challenges to your oral health, then your dentist may suggest removing it rather than repairing it.
It’s common particularly on wisdom teeth for minor cracking to occur.
When this happens and it’s determined that your third molars fit comfortably in your jaw, then your dentist will probably opt for a tooth repair.
This is carried out using a super-strong composite material.
If, however, the cracking is more severe and the damage is sufficient that a conventional dental crown is needed, it’s highly likely that your dentist will recommend a wisdom tooth extraction instead.
Broken wisdom tooth removal – The procedure
Contrary to popular belief, broken tooth removal is a relatively quick and comfortable procedure, performed in just one dental visit. If this is a simple extraction, emergency dentistry can take just a few minutes and is typically performed chairside. All patients should feel is slight pressure from a gentle rocking motion as the tooth is gradually loosened from its socket.
If the broken wisdom tooth has become impacted, then the tooth might need to be cut into sections and removed piece by piece. This can take longer and require a longer recovery although you should still remain comfortable.
Why do wisdom teeth break?
As the name suggests, wisdom teeth tend to break through (erupt) in your latter (wisdom) years. Usually, by this stage, there is limited space in the mouth for them to grow. As they try to grow through the gum, it’s common for another existing tooth to be occupying the same spot. This causes it to grow at an unnatural angle – resulting in cracking or breakage.
In addition, and just like with any other teeth, third molars are also susceptible to blunt force trauma such as a jaw impact or when biting down onto something hard. This can lead to tooth fragmentation which may, in turn, cause discomfort.
How to best care for wisdom teeth
If you are fortunate enough to have wisdom teeth that have erupted normally, then extra care needs to be taken to ensure they remain in optimal condition. The problem is that because they are located at the very back of the mouth, third molars often get missed during a normal oral cleaning routine. As such, if any cracks, chips, or breaks are present in your wisdom teeth, then infections could quickly escalate and spread.
As well as regular and thorough brushing and flossing, you may want to consider additional help from antimicrobial mouth rinses and water flossers to help better target difficult to reach areas such as wisdom teeth.
If you suspect you have a cracked or broken tooth then it’s vital not to ignore the situation. A broken wisdom tooth can lead to bacterial infections which can rapidly spread to the gums and jaw.
In the event of a broken wisdom tooth, call your dentist immediately for an emergency appointment. Most dentists will leave time in their busy schedules for emergency appointments and should be able to fit you in that same day.
Depending upon what your dentist finds, they may initiate a simple broken tooth repair, but given the positioning of most wisdom teeth and the problems they can cause, there is a strong chance that extraction may be the better option.
If you are at all concerned that you have a cracked or broken wisdom tooth or are worried that your wisdom teeth aren’t erupting properly, come and talk to the experienced team at Beyond Infinity Dental at (02) 8806 3799. We utilise the latest technology and techniques to access your situation quickly and will give you the best treatment based on your individual needs.