Snapped Off At The Gum Line: Can A Dentist Still Save Your Tooth?

When a tooth loses a small amount of its structure (whether it's due to decay or an accident), a dentist can usually rebuild the tooth with a filling. When a larger amount is lost, the tooth will require a crown. This customized porcelain cap simultaneously contains the damaged interior parts of the tooth, while becoming a new, fortified exterior layer for the tooth. But what about when the damage is so severe that the tooth has snapped off at the gum line?  

Beneath the Gum Line

Most of a tooth's structure is visible, but the tooth continues beneath the gum line. If it's intact, this subgingival (beneath your gingival tissues) section can be used to rebuild the tooth, seemingly from scratch.

Tooth Structure

If there's an adequate amount of subgingival tooth structure, a dentist can use this as the foundation to rebuild the tooth using a crown. It's likely that what remains of the tooth will need a root canal. This is the removal of the tooth's damaged nerve (also called the pulp). The root canal will prevent further irritation and the likely infection of the tooth's nerve. 

Dental Crowns

A customized prosthetic tooth will be manufactured for you in a dental crown lab. Although some dental clinics offer same-day or immediate crowns (accomplished in a single appointment), your case is more complex and requires specialist manufacturing. Your dentist must ensure that your dental crown can handle the bite pressure exerted upon the tooth and may need to give it some additional support.

Central Support

The post and core technique involves your dentist giving the tooth a central support column. A small titanium post is inserted into the tooth's empty pulp chamber. This is where the tooth's nerve was located prior to your root canal treatment. The titanium post is cemented into position.

Final Steps

The prepared dental crown can now be added. It may be made entirely of porcelain or may be porcelain fused to a metal base. The latter option is used when a dentist feels that a patient's bite pattern and strength warrant some additional reinforcement. The crown will be color-matched to the rest of your teeth and will be a precise replica of the natural tooth structure it's to replace. The crown is simply brushed along with your natural teeth.

Remarkably, even a tooth that has apparently broken off entirely can be rebuilt. Even if your tooth has snapped off at the gum line, it may not be totally lost.

Contact a local dentist to learn more about dental crown labs.