Chipped, Cracked, or Broken Teeth

If your tooth is chipped, cracked, or broken, seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible. These types of dental injuries cannot be treated at home. If you find the broken part of your tooth, gently rinse it with water and place it into a plastic bag until you can see your dentist. Do not place it into tissue paper.

When your tooth chips or break, it may not hurt. However, your tongue will be able to feel the sharp area quite quickly. While minor fractures do not cause pain, a large piece of the tooth may hurt if it breaks off, and the nerve inside the tooth may be damaged. You will also experience more extreme discomfort if the nerve endings in the dentin are exposed to air, or to hot or cold foods and drinks. Pain from broken or cracked teeth may be constant or intermittent. It is common to feel pain while chewing, as it puts pressure onto the tooth.

Your teeth may chip, crack (fracture), or break if you:

  • Bite down on something hard
  • Are hit in the face our mouth
  • Fall
  • Have cavities
  • Have large amalgam fillings

Broken Teeth
A broken tooth is often the result of trauma, such as biting down too hard or receiving a blow to the face. A broken tooth can also cause other oral problems like a toothache or jaw pain. If the break is not major, however, you may only experience tooth sensitivity. If your tooth is broken, consider it a dental emergency and make arrangements to see your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will be able to identify whether or not the break was caused by a cavity, and if the nerve of your tooth is in danger. A damaged nerve usually requires root canal therapy to treat.

Until you can meet with your dentist, you can care for your injury by:

  • Rinsing your mouth thoroughly with warm water
  • Applying pressure to any bleeding areas for 10-15 minutes, or until the bleeding stops. If this doesn’t work, you can also try placing a tea bag on the area to stop the bleeding.
  • Apply a cold pack to the cheek or lips to reduce swelling and pain.
  • If you cannot meet your dentist immediately, cover the portion of the tooth remaining in your mouth with temporary dental cement. This can be purchased at your local store or pharmacy.
  • If necessary, use a mild pain reliever.

Before you go to the dentist for a broken tooth, follow some of these self-care tips:

  • Save any broken pieces. If it was a clean break, your dentist may be able to cement the broken part of the tooth back as a temporary fix. If possible, put the broken tooth fragments or completely knocked out tooth in a plastic container or bag with a small amount of milk or saline.
  • Rinse the broken teeth fragments with warm water. If a tooth is completely knocked out, hold it by the crown (top) and rinse it off with water. Do not touch the roots of the tooth or try to scrape the roots to remove dirt. You may not rinse or clean the tooth. The dentist will do this for you.
  • Practice some first-aid basics. If an area is bleeding, rinse out your mouth with warm or salt water. Please a piece of gauze or tissue in the socket, and bite down. A cold compress can help with swelling and pain.

Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth require treatment from a dentist or a dental specialist. The type of treatment you receive will be determined by the type and severity of the crack in your teeth.

Types of cracked teeth include:

  • Craze Lines – these are minor cracks that only affect the enamel, or outer surface, of the tooth. These rarely need treatment, but your dentist might give the teeth a light polish to smooth out the rough places.
  • Fractured Cusps – this type of crack occurs when the cusps, or raised points) of the teeth break off. You will usually need a dental crown to restore the tooth.
  • Cracked Tooth – this type of fracture extends from the chewing surface of the tooth all the way down to the nerve. The pieces of the tooth will remain in place, but the crack will gradually spread and enlarge. Sometimes cracks can be repaired with filling material, but the crack may need a crown to prevent the damage from becoming worse. If the pup is damaged, your dentist may also perform a root canal.
  • Split Tooth – the result of an untreated cracked tooth. A split tooth fractures into distinct segments. Your dentist may or may not be able to save the tooth. If the tooth can be saved, your dentist will need to perform a root canal and provide you with a dental crown.
  • Vertical Root Fracture – these cracks begin at the root and extend towards the chewing surface. This type of crack is painful, and the tooth will probably need to be extracted.
  • Decay-induced Break – this type of break occurs due to a cavity weakening the tooth from the inside out. Your dentist will evaluate the damage, and determine the best way to restore the tooth. Extraction may be necessary if the decay is extensive.

Chipped Tooth
A chipped tooth treatment varies according to the amount of damage. There are many procedures now available to correct chipped teeth, and many of them can be performed in just one dental visit. Depending on your situation, the following treatments may be an option for you:

  • Dental bonding: most chips can be repaired with bonding. The dentist will fill the chipped area with a tooth-colored composite resin and mold it to match the shape of your tooth. Modern dental bonding is an efficient, durable, and cost-effective way to correct minor dental imperfections.
  • Enamel shaping: often used in conjunction with bonding, this treatment can correct small chips or surface flaws by removing a small portion of the tooth’s surface to smooth out the imperfections
  • Dental Veneers: when the damage is significant and dental bonding or enamel shaping cannot be used, veneers can be placed over the surface of your teeth and hide the flaws.
  • Root canal: when you experience pain with a chipped tooth, it can be a sign that the nerve is exposed. If that is the case, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
  • Dental crown: a crown, or cap, is used to completely cover the visible part of a tooth or to restore the crown of a tooth after a root canal.
  • Tooth extractions: if the tooth cannot be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. The good news is that a dental implant can not only replace the missing tooth without touching existing teeth, but it also preserves the bone structure like a natural tooth would.