On the Cusp of Dental Restoration: Is a Broken Molar Cusp an Urgent Dental Issue?

Dentist Blog

A molar cusp, the pointed part of the surface of a back tooth, assists your teeth in the grinding process, tearing the food as you chew. On rare occasions, these cusps can break off. When the break is a clean one, this is not a dental emergency. It is, however, something that should be treated quickly. More serious fractures can cause a tooth to crack and require immediate attention.

If one of your molar cusps has recently broken off, a dentist can repair the damage using one of the following techniques.

Your Dentist Can Reattach the Cusp

If you were lucky enough to retrieve the broken cusp, your dentist can reattach it as long as it is fully intact. The process used to attach the cusp is similar to the one used by cosmetic dentists to attach dental veneers. Your dentist will first etch the surface of the tooth to create a suitably rough surface for the composite resin to bond to.

Then they will reattach the cusp by using the composite resin to glue the cusp back into place. According to research which found that the reattached cusp was still stable after 12 months, this technique is more reliable than rebuilding the cusp with composite resin.

The Cusp Can Be Replaced with Composite Resin

It is not always possible to save the cusp, especially when the breakage isn't noticed until later. By that point, the cusp has already been lost or swallowed. In this case, provided the tooth is not cracked, a dentist can rebuild the cusp using composite resin. However, because molars are often used for grinding and breaking food down, the replacement could break within months.

This method then, is probably better as a short-term solution while you save up for a dental crown.

The Breakage May Require a Dental Crown

When a broken cusp causes a crack or leaves a tooth at risk of developing a crack, the best option is to place a dental crown over the tooth. Doing so will prevent the tooth from fracturing further whilst also ensuring that the nerve is not affected. If you are experiencing pain or sensitivity, this is an indication that the nerve has been irritated by the trauma.

Your dentist will need to perform several checks to ensure that the nerve is intact before placing the dental crown. If the nerve is too badly damaged, you may first need a root canal and then a dental crown. However, a broken cusp does not usually kill the nerve of tooth.

If you break a dental cusp, contact your dentist as soon as possible. Even the smallest fracture can give bacteria a chance to invade a tooth and cause tooth decay. 


30 October 2017

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.