This a time of year when many people find themselves at holiday parties, standing before a bowl of nuts, making harmless conversation while busily cracking open nut shells. This is a fine activity when done properly, but can lead to injury if you're not careful. Breaking open nuts with your teeth may break open more than just the nutshell. Cracking nuts can cause your tooth enamel to break. Injuries like this can lead to serious damage. Knowing the dangers of opening nuts with your teeth, and what to do if your tooth chips or cracks, can help you seek appropriate treatment.
If your tooth becomes cracked, you may not realize you have a problem at first, and you may not see a crack in your tooth. You will feel pain, but it will be intermittent. At first, the pain may only be noticeable when you bite in a certain way, or when you drink hot or cold foods. After a while, you may start noticing pain in your tooth at random times.
At first, the pain will occur when two sides of the tooth rub together while you eat and engage in activities with your mouth. When this happens, it prevents the pulp inside the tooth from healing, and that causes further injury. Over time, the pulp inside the tooth can become infected. This infection can spread to the gum, jaw and beyond.
If the crack remains above the gum line, a root canal and crown may be enough to save the tooth. Once the crack has spread to an area below the tooth, the tooth itself will need to be extracted and an artificial tooth will be put in its place.
If you crack a tooth, you don't need to see a dentist on the same day. However, you should make an appointment to see a dentist right away. The longer you take to see a dentist about your problem, the worse the pain (and the infection) will become. In addition, if the crack is above the gum line at first, it may not stay that way. The longer you wait, the more likely it is that the crack will spread to an area of the tooth below the gum line.
If you chip a tooth, this counts as a dental emergency, much like if you lost a whole tooth. Sometimes chipped teeth can be put back together if you see an emergency care dentist quickly enough. If you chip a tooth, locate the chip and put it in a cup or a plastic bag with a few drops of saliva. Next, call an emergency dentist (such as one from Family Dentistry Of Brick, PA), announce your impending arrival, and leave with the chip.
If you arrive quickly enough and if the break was not across a nerve, the dentist may be able to re-attach the chip. If the piece can't be reattached, your dentist will likely fix the tooth by covering it with a tooth-colored resin. This procedure is known as bonding.
Of course, all this may all be avoided if you choose to use a nutcracker instead of your teeth at the holidays. So be careful, and just know what to do if you do happen to break a tooth this holiday season.