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Plaza Dental Group: 1089 Jordan Creek Pkwy #100, West Des Moines, IA 50266

What should I do if a molar has broken off at the gum line?


A broken molar is a dental emergency, as it has the potential to cause severe pain, small chips, and fractures. Therefore, visit your dentist immediately if a molar has broken off at or under your gum line. 

Read more to learn the causes, symptoms, and treatment options of a broken molar.

Causes of a Broken Molar

Factors contributing to a broken molar are:

  • Weakness caused by filling
  • Aging teeth
  • Accidentally biting something hard
    Tooth decay caused by untreated cavities 
  • Chronic teeth grinding
  • Recurrent cavities
  • Sudden changes in the mouth temperature
  • Facial trauma from sports injuries and accidents 

Symptoms of a Broken Molar

A broken molar at your gum line will cause you to:

  • Sense the missing or broken part of your tooth with your tongue.
  • See the broken tooth appearing pink or yellow. If the tooth appears dark brown or black, it may indicate tooth decay.
  • Feel the sharp and jagged edge of the remaining fragment in your gum, which can cause inflammation.
  • Bleed from broken blood vessels.
  • Experience pain from exposed nerve roots or while consuming cold or sweet foods or beverages.

Complications of a Broken Molar

If not treated, a broken molar can cause:

  • Tooth decay due to the lack of enamel to cover blood vessels and nerves 
  • Abscess 
  • Nerve damage 
  • Infection, which may spread to your jaw bone

Treatment for Broken Molar

Many factors, including the depth of the break and how quickly you act, will help your dentist determine the available options for broken molars. These may include:

  • Reattaching Bone Fragment

    Your dentist will use bonding agents to reattach the broken tooth if your tooth is not deeply broken. They may combine this procedure with a root canal if the tooth pulp is exposed. 

  • Root Canal 

    When your tooth’s inside is inflamed or infected, a root canal is performed to remove the pulp (containing nerves and blood vessels) from your tooth’s center and replace it with rubbery filling. 

  • Extrusion

    When a molar is broken below your gum line, you will be asked to wear aligners or braces on the fractured tooth for some weeks to pull it above your gum line.

  • Filling or Crown

    If the damage is minor, your dentist may use a filling to fix your broken molar or crown to cover it. They may perform a crown lengthening procedure if not enough tooth is exposed to hold the crown.

  • Tooth Extraction or Replacement

    If your tooth cannot be restored, your dentist will extract it and replace it with a denture, endosteal implant, or dental bridge.  

How Long Is the Recovery?

Your recovery can take a few days to a few weeks depending on the procedure performed to fix your broken molar. Follow the after-care instructions recommended by your dentist including, avoiding sticky or crunchy foods, chewing with the broken tooth, and drinking using a straw.   

How to Prevent a Broken Molar?

  • Do not use your teeth to break or cut anything.
  • Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth.
  • Avoid chewing on hard foods.
  • Reduce consuming foods and beverages high in sugar. 
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports. 

Fractured teeth are vulnerable to decay and infection because they lack protective enamel, which covers the nerves and blood vessels inside. Untreated broken molars can cause infection, abscess, and nerve damage. Bacteria from this contamination can also infect your jaw bone, surrounding teeth, and gums. 

If you need to fix your broken molar, schedule an appointment with our emergency dentist in West Des Moines today!  

Plaza Dental Group

Plaza Dental Group is a leading group of dentists in Des Moines, IA that provides high-quality dentistry in a comfortable and stress-free environment. We have a team of caring and highly-skilled professionals that uses state-of-the-art technology and delivers excellent service to the patients. Request an appointment today!

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Things went very well today. It should make getting the bridge done easier. Today was prep for the Bridge. Very easy and quick. Did not have to bite into a mold. Looking forward to finishing the process.
Chris Refsland
Chris Refsland
I had a great experience with my treatment at this place. They are the most trustworthy and clean team. Their hardwork will pay you off with amazing tooth for sure. I highly recommend this place and a must visit for any of your tooth work ! Thank you !
vijay purna
vijay purna
I needed to have a tooth extracted. Dr. Dietrich was amazing. She kept reassuring me during the process, which I really needed. She worked quickly and efficiently and treated me with respect and kindness. Not a fun process but she helped calm me.
Connie Scharlach
Connie Scharlach
I had the pleasure of working with Talia in my first appointment in years. She made me feel heard emotionally and financially while still being quick and efficient. Couldn’t have asked for a better reintroduction to oral health care.
Leana Bishop
Leana Bishop
Jillian repaired my temporary crown. She is extremely pleasant and very sensitive to her patients. She also is very knowledgeable and has excellent skills in performing her dental procedures. Definitely a 5 + staff member and an asset to the Plaza Dental Group team.
Victoria Arndt
Victoria Arndt
I started going to Plaza Dental group when unsatisfied with my previous provider. My experience has been fantastic. After only one visit the staff knew me by name and remembered small details about my life. They also informed of missing sealants my previous dentist had ignored. Since going for my first visit I have had most of them replaced, as well as a Boost Whitening Treatment from Manny. The staff is excellent, and I would recommend them to even those who don’t have cavities or staining. I fell into that category and have still seen improvement in what most people labeled as a perfect smile.read more
Levi Larson
Levi Larson
I had the best experience I have ever had at the dentist before! I had Becca for my cleaning and she was the absolute best. She was so kind and super cheerful and just an extremely fun person to have clean my teeth. While doing my cleaning, Dr. Jones came in to check my teeth and was super welcoming and made me feel more comfortable than ever, given I hadn’t been to a dentist in quite a few years and made me feel so good about my teeth. Overall, I can’t describe into words how absolutely amazing my experience at Plaza was. I will most definitely be back!read more
Spencer Barnes
Spencer Barnes
I had a great experience with Dr. Jones and Manny. I had several procedures, and they took extra care each time, ensuring my comfort, understanding of the work, and smooth recovery. Great results and professional care. Absolutely recommended.
Eric Thortsen
Eric Thortsen
Everyone at Plaza Dental has been friendly and makes coming to the dentist a positive experience. Currently doing SureSmile aligners and treatment cost has been very affordable! I would recommend Dr. Odland and his team!
Breyonna Peckham
Breyonna Peckham
The hygienist and Dr are excellent. Friendly, thoughtful (what station of music would you like to hear for example) competent.I bounced around a few dentists after mine retired and am glad I found this group. Highly recommended.
Rose Mitchell
Rose Mitchell
I’ve been a patient at Plaza for over a decade. The staff is so friendly, the location is easy to access, and scheduling/rescheduling is simple and convenient. I used to hate going to the dentist but they have helped me feel comfortable with the process and confident with my smile.
Bethany Arganbright
Bethany Arganbright
All staff & dentist were very good, very helpful & they all had very nice personalities. They were knowledgeable & through. Refered me to a surgeon that could maybe help me with implants. Kudos plaza dental
Deb Stineman
Deb Stineman
I had a fear of Dentist but after my visit there it was awesome. The staff was amazing and so welcoming and friendly. Susie was the best im from Louisiana and she played some Zydeco music for me this place is amazing. The hand wax was the icing on the cake.
murrell roland
murrell roland
I highly recommend Dr. Odland. His ability to be personable and professional is exceptional! He made me feel comfortable and confident regarding my dental decisions. In addition, Noel, Carley, and Erin have been wonderful. I’ve also had a great experience with Rick. Destinae always checks you in with a smile.read more
Cheryl Fontanini
Cheryl Fontanini
Amazing team, They take the time to listen to your concerns and understand your concerns. They go above and beyond to insure you are comfortable and really get to know you.
holly schelle
holly schelle
Rick gave us a great referral to help us with getting my husband's dentures so he can have teeth again! The staff were friendly and made us feel respected.
Nancy Costa
Nancy Costa
I love coming to Plaza Dental. The people are so friendly and welcoming. Lacey is fantastic. She loves her job and her patients. I appreciate her and all she does to make me feel comfortable . She is the very best !!!
kathy and tim meyer
kathy and tim meyer
As usual, I only waited a few minutes until Talia came to bring me to the back. The treatment itself was pleasant and efficient and everybody was very friendly and helpful. I definitely recommend this place!
Martina Walther
Martina Walther

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