This is a conversation you’re not likely to ever hear:
“So I’m walking the dog a couple nights ago and something weird happened. I feel this itch by my right ear and so I scratch it. Wouldn’t you know….my ear falls off!”
“What! That’s horrifying! What did the doctor say?”
“Well, I didn’t go to the doctor. It didn’t hurt. And I could totally still hear. Mostly. Some of the higher pitched stuff isn’t quite as clear, but…”
I know, I know. You’re thinking I’m making this stuff up. This could never happen. Well, maybe…
Broken or Chipped Teeth
I have conversations similar to this with patients on a pretty regular basis. Patients will tell me with a straight face that a part of their body fell off, but they didn’t think that much of it. The only difference is that the part that broke off is from a tooth and not their ear.
It isn’t normal for teeth to break. Just like it isn’t normal for your ear to fall off. A broken tooth is an indication that something went wrong. The tooth might have had a cavity or it might have had a big tooth filling in it that undermined the existing tooth structure. Some fillings will fatigue the tooth over time and the existing tooth structure will finally break. Often, the patient is a night time tooth grinder, which is very common and not at all out of the ordinary. Many people can grind away all night on their teeth without a symptom at all and the first sign they have a night-time grinding problem is a broken tooth. Sometimes a tooth will be subject to a trauma such as a flying elbow in basketball or an olive pit on a pizza. But I’m here to tell you—that piece of tooth broke for a reason!
Here’s the other thing I hear all the time: “Honest doc, I was just eating a bowl of soup.” It seems like a patients feel cheated by a broken tooth unless the break occurs when they’re eating a bowl of Grape Nuts or something. Often, the tooth is ready to break for awhile and it doesn’t take much to cause the damage. How a tooth breaks usually isn’t all that important—it’s what you do after it breaks that IS important! If you take the approach that “it doesn’t hurt that much. I’ll just wait until my next appointment,” you might be looking for trouble.
If you’ve broken or worn through the enamel (the hardest outer layer of the tooth), that tooth is at greater risk for decay and further fracture. Fractured teeth are more likely to need root canal treatment and are at greater risk of being lost! It’s like a Tootsie Pop. Once you get through the hard candy coating, that Tootsie Roll goes pretty quick!
If you experience a chipped or broken tooth, call our office today at 940-380-1188 — not tomorrow! It’s a problem that needs to be addressed quickly so you can avoid the nastier stuff that’s bound to happen!