Cavities, gingivitis, and other dental issues stemming from bacteria are common problems that can easily be dealt with through regular dental visits and a healthy brush and floss regimen. Chips, fractures, and more severe breaks in the teeth, while rare, pose a more immediate risk to your oral health. When a section of the tooth breaks off, it exposes the softer, underlying layers and nerve, resulting in severe discomfort and pain and gives bacteria a direct line to the inside of the tooth. Thankfully, breaking a tooth is a rare occurrence and you can easily avoid behaviors that make such an injury more likely.
Life can be stressful, and while we often associate stress with its mental or emotional symptoms and effects, it takes a physical toll as well. One area that particularly affected by stress is the teeth. Bruxism, or jaw clenching and grinding together of the teeth, is a common behavior that many people carry out in their sleep. Grinding of the teeth will wear them down over time and, in more extreme cases, can lead to pieces of the tooth breaking off.
If you suffer from regular morning headaches and jaw pain, there’s a good chance you may be grinding and clenching your teeth. To prevent this problem from escalating, see a dentist in Burnsville about being fitted for a night guard. These mouth pieces are not only more durable than those worn by athletes, they are also specially fitted to your teeth to ensure a comfortable fit that keeps the night guard in place while you sleep, preventing damage throughout the course of the evening.
Another common nervous habit is chewing. Be it on pen caps, the end of a pencil, or even your own nails, chewing on hard objects puts added stress on the teeth, chipping away the protective layer of enamel. This also includes hard food and drink like popcorn kernels, hard shelled nuts, and ice cubes, which can all lead to cracked teeth. Indulge in hard treat in moderation and try replacing pens and other objects with a sugar-free gum, whose softer texture poses less risk to your teeth.
The Importance of Enamel
It’s easy to forget that your teeth are composed of several layers, each with their own unique properties. Enamel, the hard outer layer of teeth, is meant to protect the softer layers below. While enamel is durable, it can be damaged over time, which exposed the rest of the tooth to chipping and breaking. Therefore, you should adopt brushing habits that promote enamel health. Have your dentist recommend a toothpaste and mouthwash fortified with fluoride. Despite what the naysayers think, fluoride is perfectly fine when used in the small doses recommended by dentists. It makes enamel more resistant to cavities and other threats that lead to breaking, and since the body cannot replace this layer once it’s gone, taking measures to preserve it is vital.
What products you brush with is just as important as how you brush. Select a brush with soft to medium bristles, as a hard brush can actually damage enamel. While you might think hard brushing is more effective at removing plaque and bacteria, this can actually damage teeth as well, making them more prone to breaking. Instead, apply soft but even pressure, moving the brush in circular motions. Avoid acidic foods and drinks, but if you do consume them, rinse with water afterward rather than immediately reaching for the brush since these foods temporarily weaken your teeth, which can be exacerbated by brushing.
Seek Treatment Immediately
In many cases, patients receive fairly minor cracks or chips to their teeth. Rather than seeking treatment immediately, however, they brush off the problem, which only leads to further issues down the road. When left untreated, even a small crack or fracture to the tooth can result in a larger section breaking off from otherwise minor pressure or impact as the tooth’s structure will have weakened over time.
Small tooth fractures are not always immediately visible, so look out for other symptoms to detect if there is an underlying issue. If your teeth are experiencing sensitivity to hot or cold or feeling sudden, sharp pain when chewing, have the area checked immediately by your dentist, as these can be indications of a chip or fracture.
Do your part to prevent your teeth from breaking by avoiding dangerous behaviors and making use of products that prevent wear and tear. If you do suffer a crack or chip, however minor, it’s always safest to have your dentist examine the afflicted tooth as soon as possible. Mending the tooth as soon as possible will prevent it from developing into a full-blown dental emergency.