- A broken molar is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Treatment options include root canal treatment, dental bonding, and crowns.
- Common causes of broken molars include physical impact, biting down on hard foods, and direct injuries to the face.
- A tooth can crack in half without causing pain if the injury has not reached the nerve of the molar, the tooth is dead, the nerve is damaged, or the tooth has undergone a root canal treatment in the past.
Act fast to treat a broken molar tooth. You can use Authority Dental to find emergency dentist open 24 hours near you. Refer to our trustworthy service to get urgent help.
What should you do if your molar breaks in half? Here’s everything you need to know.
Common causes for teeth to break in half
The most common cause of a broken molar is a physical impact.
Your teeth are made up of some of the strongest tissues in your body, which help maintain their structure for decades. Still, they cannot withstand biting down on extremely hard foods and inedible things like small rocks. Those accidentally may happen to show up in your meal. If you tend to use your teeth to open packages and tear off small objects, you run a very high risk of them. Direct injuries to the face can also be fatal for your smile.
The intensity of the damage depends on the force of the impact and the original condition of your oral health. Healthy enamel protects teeth better. Decay, untreated cavities, fillings, nerve and dental pulp removal make teeth more fragile. Such molars are more prone to breaking.
Can a dentist fix a tooth cracked in half?
Yes. The dental treatment you should undergo depends on the intensity and extent of the dental damage.
Root canal therapy
Dentists perform root canal tooth treatment on molars to take care of significant damage. It helps to clean the infections of the root and prevent new ones in the future.
During RCT, the dentist removes the dental pulp with specialized instruments. The doctor will then seal the space with a filling. Some specialists treat the chewing surface of molars with a simple filling after RCT. However, protecting them with a dental crown is more effective to prevent fracture in the long term since the crown covers and hugs the whole tooth.
Dental bonding is more for slightly chipped molars with small cracks. It is suitable mainly for the issues that require a cosmetic procedure.
Dentists apply a tooth-colored resin to the surface to restore its shape. This treatment helps to regain the natural appearance of anterior teeth. However, it is also useful for molars. With this procedure, you can repair the shape and hide sharp edges.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap made of porcelain, metal, composite or even a mix of these materials. It is effective protection for a broken molar. It is often useful after RCT but it may be done prior to a root canal treatment for a fragile (heavily repaired tooth with a weakening restoration or a largely decayed or fractured tooth) but vital tooth. Dental crowns support dental bridges, too.
Extraction and restoration
Dentists always aim to preserve a natural tooth with restorative dentistry. They do their best to avoid extraction. Still, if this is not possible because the tooth is not fixable due to the severe extent of the decay or fracture under the bone, you can consider the following solutions.
Partial dentures are removable plates with one or more artificial teeth. They usually have clasps for attaching them to other teeth for support. They are made of either pure plastic or plastic and metal. The latter is safer for natural teeth and lasts longer.
A dental bridge is a fixed solution for the replacement of missing teeth. It can be an effective alternative to dentures. Bridges are made of metal, porcelain or a mixture of these materials.
A bridge requires at least two healthy teeth adjacent to the gap that a bridge aims to fill. The appearance of a bridge resembles a set of dental crowns.
Why may there be no pain when a tooth cracks in half?
Sometimes the damage may appear serious but it can cause no pain. It may happen if the injury has not gotten to the nerve of the molar. However, this is rarely the case with half-broken teeth.
More likely, the absence of pain and sensitivity to extreme temperatures indicates one of the following conditions:
The impact can be so strong that it damages the blood vessels inside the tooth. This may interrupt blood circulation and lead to the death of the nerve. A non-vital nerve means the death of the tooth.
In such a case, you may not feel any pain at all. The discomfort you may experience comes from the pressure on the periodontal membrane under your tooth, where pus and the necrotic (dead) nerve tissue goes when it dies.
Damaged tooth nerve
Your dental nerve may still be alive. If the impact isn’t too hard, the nerve may adapt and protect itself, thus self-reduce its sensitivity and cause the lowering of your painful sensations.
Keep in mind that damage to the upper layers of a tooth (enamel and dentine) can bring the nerve closer to the exposed or fractured surface. This can set off your body's natural defense mechanism: pulp calcification.
It will thicken and harden to create layers of calcified tissue surrounding the soft nerve to protect itself thanks to its stem cells - these were the cells originally responsible for tooth formation at the initial stages of tissue development. In turn, this will reduce painful sensations.
Tooth after RCT
Dentists use RCT or root canal treatment, an endodontic procedure, to remove tooth pulp and nerves. If you have undergone this procedure in the past and broken your molar afterwards, you will most likely not find this injury painful.
Since RCT removes the nerve, the molar is already no longer vital. Still, with proper protection and hygiene, it can retain its structure for a long time.
Is a cracked tooth with no pain a dental emergency?
A very small crack with no painful sensations is not an emergency. Treat greater damage as an emergency even if there is no pain. Without urgent treatment, you risk severe infection and loss of an entire molar.
What to do with a half-broken tooth before a dental appointment?
Rinse your mouth with salt water to clean the area. Use a cold compress to reduce swelling of the surrounding tissues, if it’s the case. Take over-the-counter pain relievers with ibuprofen if you have no medical contraindications to do so: verify with your pharmacist first to make sure you may take Ibuprofen depending on the health conditions or medications you may be currently taking. Cover the broken molar with dental wax to prevent soft tissue injury. Gentle brushing and flossing is necessary to avoid infections.
Should I brush a tooth chipped at the gum line?
You should gently brush the broken molar with damage at the gum line. This is the only way to avoid bacterial and food accumulation which can lead to infection. Hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Brush the tooth by moving the bristles away from the gum.
How to prevent teeth from breaking in half?
Take care of your enamel by switching to a diet with a minimum of sugary and acidic foods and drinks. Use toothpaste with fluoride and floss regularly. Use a mouth guard, provided by and maintained with your dentist, during sleep if you tend to grind or clench your teeth. Wear a mouthguard if you play contact sports.