Broken tooth


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Apr 16, 2021
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Hi, I’m not sure what to do so thought I would ask on here.
I was just eating an apple, about an hour ago and part of my tooth just broke off. It’s my bottom 1st molar and I’ve got a big amalgam filling in it, that I’ve had for years.

It’s too difficult to take a picture of the tooth as it’s the back of the tooth that broke but I’ve attached a picture of the part that broke off, if that will help at all

There’s no pain it just feels weird as my tongue keeps noticing it! Unfortunately it’s happened on a bank holiday weekend in England for the Queen’s funeral…so it isn’t easy to get dental appointment for the next couple of days.

Is this something I should get checked out now or can it wait for a couple of days? If it can wait, is there anything I should or shouldn’t do to help it?

Also, I clench and grind my teeth, could that have cause the tooth around the big filling to become even weaker? I have never been told that there was a crack and never felt anything until the tooth broke off.

Thanks for any help and advice.
 

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honestdoc

Verified Dentist
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Unfortunately I see this too often. The amalgam is stronger than the tooth holding it. The larger the amalgam filling, the weaker the surrounding tooth structure. The dentist usually preps the tooth for an undercut to retain the filling. The undercut weakens the cusps and fractures are very common. The most common fractures on lower molars are on the tongue side.

If you can see your dentist soon, you should be fine. The problem is the sharp, rough surfaces can irritate and damage the tongue. Long term irritation to the tongue is very bad and can lead to formation of abnormal tissue (precancer) called hyperkeratosis (callouses).

If the dentist requires you to have a crown and you cannot afford it, have him/her smooth the area so it doesn't feel sharp or rough to your tongue. I will guess that any temporary filling will not stay on and will flake off again.
 

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Joined
Apr 16, 2021
Messages
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Solutions
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Unfortunately I see this too often. The amalgam is stronger than the tooth holding it. The larger the amalgam filling, the weaker the surrounding tooth structure. The dentist usually preps the tooth for an undercut to retain the filling. The undercut weakens the cusps and fractures are very common. The most common fractures on lower molars are on the tongue side.

If you can see your dentist soon, you should be fine. The problem is the sharp, rough surfaces can irritate and damage the tongue. Long term irritation to the tongue is very bad and can lead to formation of abnormal tissue (precancer) called hyperkeratosis (callouses).

If the dentist requires you to have a crown and you cannot afford it, have him/her smooth the area so it doesn't feel sharp or rough to your tongue. I will guess that any temporary filling will not stay on and will flake off again.

Thank you for getting back to me so quickly. Yes the break is on the tongue side. I’m trying to keep my tongue away from it. Why are the fractures usually on the tongue side? Does the tongue or more saliva etc help weaken it?

Is Tuesday soon enough to phone up for an urgent appointment (as long as I don’t develop pain)? Or should it be before Tuesday? Most dentists won’t be open on Monday because of the Queen’s funeral.

I have 1 other tooth with a quite a big amalgam filling. I’ve actually had that one in longer than the tooth that broke today….but is there anything in particular I can do to try and strengthen the tooth?
 

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honestdoc

Verified Dentist
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On lower molars, the dominant guiding cusps are one the cheek (buccal) side. The weaker cusps are on the tongue (lingual) side. It is the opposite on top posteriors where the cheek side cusps on molars tend to break. On the top bicuspids (premolars) it depends on the size and location of the fillings. You should be fine since short term irritation usually resolves.

There are nothing you can do to strengthen your teeth other than preventing cavities. If you grind and or clench, consider night guards over-the-counter (less expensive but one size fits all) or custom made. If it starts to deteriorate, you may need a crown (not the queen's).
 

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