How Serious is a Broken Cusp on Your Tooth?

Posted on: 7 September 2022

Of the many types of fractures that a tooth can experience, a fractured cusp can seem very dramatic. A large, raised point of the tooth's peak (its biting surface) has broken off, and this is the cusp in question. It's a prominent breakage, and one that you're almost certain to notice. However, it's also quite easy to repair. So what should you do when you experience a fractured cusp? 

Rarely Painful

You'll be happy to hear that a fractured cusp on your tooth is rarely painful. This is because it's primarily focused on the tooth's outer enamel, with the underlying dentin often also affected to some degree. No living tissues are involved, as the breakage has not reached the dental pulp (or nerve) at the centre of the tooth. Because the tooth's nerve is unaffected, you can't technically feel anything in the tooth itself. If possible, remove the detached segment of your tooth (which is the cusp) from your mouth (it may have fractured during eating, so sometimes you can easily swallow it). If you can, retain the missing segment.

Protect Your Tongue

You might feel a little irritation in your tongue as it runs along the newly-exposed sharp edge of the tooth. Try to avoid touching the fracture with your tongue, but if you find this to be difficult, apply some dental wax to the tooth, if you have any on hand. Sugar-free chewing gum will also work, and this is easier to source. It conceals the sharp edge of the fracture and therefore protects your tongue. You'll now need to make an appointment with your dentist.

The Missing Segment

If you retained your fractured cusp, show it to your dentist. They might be able to reattach the segment to your tooth, permanently bonding it into place with dental cement. The segment may not be entirely intact, so reattachment isn't always possible (the pieces need to be closely slotted together)—and there's also the distinct possibility that you weren't able to find and retain the missing segment.

Recreating the Cusp

It's possible for a dentist to recreate the missing section of your tooth's cusp. They simply replace the segment with tooth-coloured dental composite resin. This replaces your tooth's cusp, and so restores the tooth itself. This resin is robust and quick-drying (your dentist may use a special light to speed up this process), so there shouldn't be any dietary restrictions with your restored tooth—it should immediately be back to business as usual.

A fractured cusp on your tooth is rarely as dramatic as it initially seems. It does need attention from your dentist—and this needs to happen without much delay, as the tooth will be more susceptible to further breakages until it's repaired. But these repairs are not especially intensive. For more information, contact a dentist near you.