As family dentists, one of the questions we’re often asked is, can broken teeth cause health problems? The simple answer is yes! A cracked or damaged tooth is like a welcome mat for bacteria that can go on to generate far more significant issues than just a problem tooth. Let’s explain.
A broken tooth should always be treated as a dental emergency. Why? Because when a broken or chipped tooth is left untreated, it becomes a precursor for germs and bacteria. Any bacterial build-up in the tooth not only wreaks havoc with your oral health but will eventually cause infection. An infection in the tooth (an abscess) can be excruciating, causing you to call an emergency dentist but also, if left untreated, it may cause other health issues.
Broken tooth infections or abscesses are typically noted by a pocket of pus and can occur on the tip of the tooth root or in the gum below. Symptoms may include:
- A painful or throbbing toothache that won’t go away.
- Extreme sensitivity to cold or hot foods and beverages
- Pain when chewing
- Gum redness and swelling
But that’s not all. Aside from these oral health problems, a dental abscess can also cause a mountain of potential health issues, including:
- Severe swelling in the face and neck
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck and jaw
Moreover, an untreated dental abscess may cause a potentially life-threatening condition called sepsis. Sepsis is the medical term for our bodily response to severe infection, and it’s a big problem. According to one of the leading authorities on the disease, over 5000 people die yearly from sepsis-related conditions, causing more deaths than prostate cancer or breast cancer.
When the body develops sepsis, it triggers a chain reaction throughout, leading to severe implications like tissue damage and even organ failure. So, if you’re wondering, can a broken tooth cause health problems? The answer is a resounding yes!
What about other side effects of a broken tooth?
Even when a broken tooth isn’t causing pain, jagged corners or edges can cause laceration to the inner cheek or tongue. These lacerations can again harbour bacteria leading to oral health problems like infections and more.
Additionally, applying bite force to a tooth that is already broken can cause the tooth to fracture or crack further. This can make it extremely difficult to chew or bite food. In turn, this can mean a change to a diet, forgoing many foods that are good for you. As a result, some dietary restrictions can lead to a host of overall health problems.
So what should you do if you experience a broken tooth?
The sooner you deal with this oral health problem, the less likely you are to develop other health conditions, so ideally, you should make a call to an emergency dentist.
A dental emergency is for circumstances that are anything but routine, and a broken tooth is definitely not a routine problem. While an emergency dentist will have several treatments to fix a broken tooth, the obvious and immediate priority in a dental emergency is to get you out of pain.
This may be something as simple as a course of antibiotics to eradicate any infection or an anaesthetic to control discomfort while working on the tooth. Once any pain is under control, the emergency dentist will work on the tooth itself.
Treatments may include a filling or composite bonding to restore the tooth’s structure or a dental crown or veneer to protect the tooth. Alternatively, an emergency dentist may suggest a root canal procedure to get you out of pain if an infection has penetrated the tooth. Either way, a broken tooth should always be considered a dental emergency.
As you can see, a broken tooth might not seem all that bad at first, especially if it isn’t causing you discomfort but inevitably, what starts as a cracked tooth may escalate into something far worse. For this reason, get in touch with your dentist without delay. Typically, dentists set aside time in their busy schedules to deal with dental emergencies, so you should be seen within 24 hours.
So there you have it, can a broken tooth cause health problems? Hopefully, you now have sufficient information to know that if a cracked or broken tooth occurred, you’d know it was a dental emergency.
If you want to learn more about broken teeth treatment or want to know your current oral health status, give the Southport Park Family Dental team a call. We’re a team of highly-experienced family dentists who adopt a non-judgmental approach to our work. Our emergency dentist status means that where possible, we’ll see you that same day
Call today on (07) 5655 7688 or book a dental emergency appointment with us online.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Australian Sepsis Network – Sepsis Epidemiology