• Physical damage to your jaw or directly to the wisdom tooth often breaks it. Enamel decay makes wisdom teeth less resistant to physical impact.
  • A broken wisdom tooth can cause discomfort ranging from sensitivity to pain and is susceptible to bacterial invasion, leading to infection and tooth loss. In severe cases, untreated tooth infections can be fatal.
  • With timely medical attention, you may be able to save your wisdom tooth. Otherwise, you will need extraction.
  • We respond promptly to your dental issues. Find emergency dental care on Authority Dental. Use a straightforward, speedy, and trustworthy service.

Do you have to extract a broken wisdom tooth? Here's everything you need to know.

Why do wisdom teeth break?

Wisdom teeth might seem to be less prone to breaking due to how far back in the mouth they reside. You can damage them just like any other teeth.

Your wisdom teeth may also grow in unevenly due to the limited space available for them to grow in. Depending on how the tooth erupts this can increase the wisdom tooth's chance of breaking.

Finally, the location of these teeth makes it difficult to maintain their hygiene. This can weakens their structure and often leads to tooth decay.

Consequences of cracked wisdom tooth

By nature, a broken wisdom tooth usually causes discomfort. Depending on the intensity of the damage, it can range from tooth sensitivity to excruciating tooth pain radiating across the mouth. The latter happens when the cracks have reached the dental pulp.

Note that you may also feel no pain at all. This is typical of severely broken teeth, where a blood clot cuts off blood flow to the nerves. Without blood supply, a broken tooth will die or necrose. Still, there may be excessive pressure on the periodontal membrane located under a cracked tooth. It can cause painful sensations, even if the tooth itself is numb.

A fractured wisdom tooth is susceptible to infiltration of bacteria. Their proliferation will lead to a rotten wisdom tooth and its loss. If the bacteria infiltrates into the pulp of the tooth it can cause serious infection. Infections that are untreated can affect the entire body system and infiltrate through the blood stream and cause systemic inflammation. In severe cases, tooth infections can be lethal.

Broken wisdom tooth treatment

Make an appointment with dental professionals as soon as possible to avoid the problems mentioned above. If treated early there is less chance of you developing complications such as infection. Most providers will recommend extracting wisdom teeth if they note decay, partial eruption with not enough space for the tooth to fully erupt, or inability to keep the tooth clean.

Dental filling

If there is no drastic damage to the tooth structure, the repair may be suggested. A doctor can treat minor decay on a wisdom tooth with a composite filling.

The procedure is similar to treating other teeth with a dental filling. A filling treatment can preserve the structure of the tooth and significantly reduce the risk of its decay.

Note, if you are suffering from a misaligned wisdom tooth problem, the filling can wear out rather quickly or be more susceptible to fracture. If the tooth is severely misaligned your provider may recommend extraction as the best treatment option for long term prognosis.

ceramic dental filling

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Wisdom tooth extraction

A shattered wisdom tooth is a candidate for extraction. Oral surgeons willy likely preform the extraction. For simple cases your general dentist may be able to extract the tooth as well. You can decide to inquire with your provider about possible sedation options to help minimize anxiety and discomfort. 

It is common that your doctor will cut the tooth into segments. This will allow your doctor to remove the tooth with minimal trauma and ease. 

If you are undergoing any form of sedation make arrangements for transportation home after the procedure. Your medications may continue to work for several hours. Give yourself a chance to rest after the extraction. Prepare some over-the-counter pain medications to reduce discomfort. Switch to a diet of soft foods while your oral cavity heals. Your provider will go over post operative instructions with you so you can have ideal recovery.

surgical tooth extraction

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Is a broken wisdom tooth an emergency?

Only a wisdom tooth with minor damage on the surface is not an emergency. You can consult your dentist about such an injury during your regular checkup. For more serious problems, you should make an appointment as soon as possible.

Your tooth may restorable if the decay is minor. Putting off going to the dentist increases the risk of its decay. This can lead to imminent tooth loss.

In addition, infections in your tooth can spread further in your body. They can affect other organs and put your overall health at risk. If you note any signs of infection you should see an emergency dentist right away.