You're sitting at the table and enjoying your meal, when all of the sudden you bite down on something hard. You feel something strange and a small twinge of pain occurs.
You run to the bathroom and look in the mirror. Your tooth is broken. Broken teeth are a common occurrence. Fortunately, they can be repaired.
If the break is small, your tooth can usually be repaired by bonding. The bonding agent is similar in color to your natural teeth, meaning it will blend right in. This procedure, however, is not permanent, and will need to be replaced from time to time.
When you break part of a front tooth, you can get a veneer. This is a thin shell made to cover the whole tooth. Part of the enamel is removed and an impression is taken. When the veneer is made, the tooth is made rough for the cement to hold better and the veneer applied.
When you break part of your molar, a crown may be recommended. A crown is like a cap, made of porcelain (so it looks like the rest of your teeth) that covers your broken tooth, preventing further damage. A local anesthetic is given, any necessary pieces of the tooth are removed and the tooth is shaved down. An impression is taken and a temporary crown given. Once the permanent crown is ready, it is attached to the tooth with cement.
If the break goes into the pulp of your tooth, you may need a root canal. The pulp is at risk of infection, leaving your tooth vulnerable to decay. With a root canal, you are given a local anesthetic and any infection, the pulp and the root are removed. A crown is often placed over the tooth to prevent further damage.
Sometimes, the tooth cannot be saved. If a break has extended down past the gum line to the root, it may need to be extracted. A dental implant can be used to replace the tooth. This procedure requires a local anesthetic.
Your dentist then drills into the jawbone and inserts an implant that will then fuse to the bone, acting like a root. A temporary tooth is given while you heal. After several weeks, the permanent one is affixed, and no one will be able to tell the difference between the porcelain replacement and the rest of your teeth.
When you break a tooth, don't worry. You have plenty of options available to fix it, keeping your smile just as beautiful as it has always been.