A Broken Front Tooth

Question:

My son has a broken front tooth. Maybe a third or half of it broke off. I’d really like to avoid having him get a crown on a front tooth when he’s so young. Is there any other way to fix it?

Answer:

It takes artistic talent, but an expert cosmetic dentist can repair a broken front tooth, even when as much of half of it is gone. This is done with tooth bonding material. The cosmetic dentist will sculpt some of this tooth colored material onto the tooth, harden it, and then polish it to a beautiful shine. Doing this requires an extensive knowledge of tooth color and translucency, plus it requires some sculpting skill. In addition, the cosmetic dentist usually needs to have an extensive selection of bonding materials in stock of various shades, consistencies, translucencies, and polishability. Expert cosmetic dentists are trained to be able to fix a broken tooth in this manner, but I wouldn’t trust a family dentist to do this.

If your dentist says that you need to have a crown for a broken front tooth, that may indicate that he or she lacks confidence in his or her artistic ability, to do beautiful bonding work like this.

I have a sample of a repair like this posted below from expert Dr. Richard Champagne, in Morganville, New Jersey. While this direct bonding technique results in a tooth that isn’t as strong as if it had been restored with a crown, if a dentist is good at the direct bonding, this will usually be the preference on a young person. A crown on a front tooth on a young person requires a lot of grinding down of the tooth and sometimes results in a lifetime of trouble over the patient’s front teeth.

When repaired with tooth bonding, only a small portion of the tooth has to be shaved in order to get the material to bond to the tooth. And, if the dentist is truly an artist, matching the color of the adjacent front tooth is much easier this way than trying to match it with a crown done in a distant lab.

—Dr. Hall

before bonding

Here’s a young man just after an unfortunate accident resulting in a broken front tooth. I doubt he’d want to be seen in public with this.
Click on the photo to see a close up picture of the broken tooth.

After dental bonding

In about an hour, an expert cosmetic dentist can restore this broken tooth and make it look like it was never broken. Click to see the enlargement and notice how beautifully natural the repair looks.
Click the photo to see a close up picture of the repaired tooth.

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