Theriot Family Dental

Can a Broken Off Tooth Get Infected?

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Years ago, in my young and foolish days, I broke a tooth. I didn’t bother doing anything about it. Eventually, the rest of the tooth broke off, but as it wasn’t bothering me, again, I just let it be. Lately, though, the hole that is left has been giving me problems. It will hurt from there all the way down to my chin. It’s been making it hard to work. Is it possible for a tooth that is already broken off to get infected? If not, is this pain just because the hole is exposed? If that is the case, should I close it up with something?


Dear Lou,

Man in pain and in need of an emergency dentist


Yes, any remaining tooth structure of a tooth that is broken off can become infected, including the root of the tooth. That is what you have going on now and if it is getting down into your chin, you need to be careful. You don’t want a bone infection. My suggestion is you call your dentist and schedule an emergency appointment. At this point, the remainder of the tooth will have to be extracted. Once the extraction site has had time to heal, you will need to replace the tooth, otherwise the other teeth will drift and cause problems with your bite that often leads to TMJ disorder. I would look into a dental implant for that replacement. It is the closest thing to having a healthy, natural tooth in your jaw again and is the only tooth replacement that will preserve your bone structure.

This is an advanced procedure, so I would not let just any dentist do it. It will be especially important that the dentist you choose has post-doctoral training in dental implants. It is not adequately taught in dental school. If you are looking for those with the most experience and training, I would find a dentist who is a fellow with the International Congress of Oral Implantologists (ICOI).

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.