Your smile and the way you look may well be very important to you.
Even if you take the very best care of your teeth, accidents happen and for one reason or another a tooth can be chipped, cracked or broken.
Many people have this happen to them on a day to day basis, some don’t even realize, the damage is that small.
Whether a severe crack or a minor chip, modern dentistry for the most part allows for our natural tooth to be saved.
In this article, we explain the difference between chips, cracks and breakages in your teeth.
We let you know what the likely treatments are, the costs and provide plenty of useful associated information so you understand what is involved with dealing with damaged teeth.
The anatomy of a tooth
There are a number of different ways in which the tooth can become damaged and each way can potentially affect you and I differently.
Some damage will be more painful than others. By looking at the tooth structure and what it is made of we can understand why.
We will keep this nice and simple to follow.
Each tooth in the mouth is essentially made up of 3 layers. As you remove 1, you reveal the next.
Those 3 layers are enamel, dentin and pulp.
If you look into your own mouth or that of someone else, what you normally see is the nice white teeth.
This white color is the hard enamel that is the outermost surface of the tooth.
The tooth itself extends below the gum and into the jaw. Each tooth has 1 or more roots that hold the tooth securely in place.
You cannot see the root, unless the tooth is removed.
The part of the tooth we see, the part above the gumline is called the crown.
The enamel coats the exterior of the crown. The roots are not by enamel, but are covered by cementum. Cementum is similar to enamel, but a little softer.
If you remove the enamel, which is the hardest substance in the human body, you expose a much softer tissue called dentin.
Dentin makes up the majority of the tooth structure.
Sitting inside the dentin and at the core of the tooth is the pulp.
Pulp is a soft tissue that comprises of blood vessels and nerves.
The pulp and dentin exist on the inside of the tooth and run right down to the very tip of the tooth roots, that secure the tooth into the jawbone.
When a tooth becomes chipped, fractured, cracked or broken, it affects primarily the outer layer of enamel.
However, in certain conditions the damage will extend past the enamel to these delicate inner layers.
The dentin and pulp are sensitive. The pulp in particular and if exposed to saliva, air, food and bacteria may become irritated and ultimately infected, compromising the long term health and strength of the tooth.
The most common symptoms when you break a tooth are:
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Sensitivity to hot or cold foods
- No symptoms at all
- The tongue or cheek becomes irritated by a rough or sharp edge
The symptoms might well be obvious, for a start, you may well have spat out a chunk of tooth that broke off from one of your teeth.
Our teeth can be placed under great amounts of pressure, particularly when eating. Grinding and clenching of the teeth are known to over time compromise the strength of teeth too.
Enamel is incredibly hard wearing, but it is not infallible.
If you suffer from any pain when biting or chewing or increased sensitivity to hot and cold food or drink, this is usually a sign that something is wrong.
However, for many chips and cracks in the teeth can be painless. It can even be months before you realise something is wrong.
Whilst many will just know when something is wrong, because we hear or feel it, the enamel of the tooth does not have nerves in it like many other parts of the human body. What this means is that there is no pain receptors to alert you that the damage has been done.
At some point, symptoms will likely show, normally when eating, but it can be some time after the initial damage was done.
Many spot the issue when brushing their teeth and looking in the mirror, suddenly realising a part of the tooth is missing.
If you show any symptoms or have a feeling something is not right, you need to get it checked out. It is important you prevent unwanted damage and have checks done to ensure the damage is not more severe than it first seems.
In cases where the damage is obvious, with lots of pain, a piece of the tooth missing and maybe some blood, the first thing you may want to do is rinse the mouth with warm water and using a cold compress on the outside of your cheek can prevent swelling and hopefully provide some comfort.
Over the counter painkillers like paracetamol and ibuprofen can reduce swelling and pain.
If the tooth is broken, with a sharp or jagged edge, you can place a piece of sugar free gum over it to protect your tongue, cheeks and inside lips or a piece of clean gauze.
Types of tooth damage
Damage to the tooth is generally categorised as either a chip, crack or break.
You might describe the damage differently, but the 3 categories and a brief explanation of how they are categorised is as follows.
- Chips to the teeth, or teeth that have been chipped are typically the least significant from a medical perspective.
- Smallish pieces of tooth that actually break away.
- Little or no pain often.
- More damage to the way the tooth looks rather than affecting the function.
- Normally, just a small amount of enamel has been lost and the dentin or pulp are not exposed.
- Cracked or fractured teeth are more serious and can be more painful.
- Often the crack runs through the enamel and into the deeper layer of dentin or pulp.
- Teeth can crack in different ways and are further classified by the location and size of the crack
- Craze lines
- Fractured/cracked cusps
- Vertical root fracture
- Often the most serious tooth damage, most often as a result of serious impact trauma.
- Larger pieces of the tooth physically broken.
- Exposure of the softer inner tissues of the pulp.
- More severe pain, bleeding and discomfort.
If you have damaged your tooth, perhaps you can use this to give a clearer explanation to your dental office when ringing to book an appointment.
No matter how big or small the damage might be, it should be looked at. It is possible that there is more damage than you can actually see.
You probably don’t need us to tell you this, but if the tooth is physically broken and you are in pain, you need to get treatment usually within 24 hours if not the same day, whereas a chip with no pain is most likely able to wait 48 hours or so.
Damaged teeth require professional assistance for proper restoration, as unlike bone, the enamel of the tooth does not heal itself.
Causes of tooth damage
What causes your tooth to break will be different to what causes the tooth of another person to crack.
However, common causes are:
- Decay (dental caries).
- Chewing hard substances like boiled sweets, nuts or ice.
- Biting down unexpectedly on something hard, such as a pip or stone within fruits.
- Accidents where the face and teeth take the brunt of the impact from an object, be that falling over and hitting into something or something hitting you.
- Old fillings failing.
- Teeth grinding.
- Using teeth to open things, such as beer bottles.
Biting down on the stone of a fruit and then breaking the tooth might sound painful, it can often be the case that whilst the pressure of the bite is what cause the crack, the underlying tooth was already weakened.
A large number of the population have dental decay or dental caries as it is also known.
Decay is the result of poor oral healthcare, The bacteria in the mouth produce acids which eat away at the enamel. The tooth becomes weaker than they are naturally.
When you take that unfortunate bite on the hard stone in the fruit, it is to much for the tooth and it gives way, cracking, chipping or breaking as a result.
Even teeth previously restored with fillings can still break.
Diagnosing tooth damage
You do not need to be a dentist to confirm that a tooth might be broken, it is often obvious, especially when a piece of the tooth is missing.
If you are getting pains when you bite or chew and there is no obvious damage, the dentist has many tools and their expertise as their disposal to find out if there is damage and where it might be.
The crack or break in the tooth may well be below the gumline or simply out of view to you and I.
Even with the obvious damage, additional checks need to be done to ensure no further damage is being missed.
I think I have a chipped or broken tooth – should I see a dentist?
If you think you have a chipped or broken tooth you should definitely see your dentist. If you are not in any pain you can wait until an appointment comes free. You may not even need any treatment, but it is better to get it checked out in case there is any decay.
Dr Gemma Wheeler – In-house dentist – GDC Number: 259369
To help with the diagnosis and resulting treatment you can expect the following.
- Questions about your dental history, from your last check up date to whether you grind your teeth or not.
- Questions about your diet.
- Have you bite down to assess pain when applying pressure.
- A visual examination of the mouth and affected tooth.
- Magnifying tools along with a ‘dental explorer’ may well be used to find any cracks and see it the explorer catches on the edge of a crack.
- A dental dye may be used to help highlight cracks.
- Probing of the gums
- X-ray of the teeth
This list will not always be followed by your dentist as individual circumstances will influence what need to be asked and done.
Of all of these, X-rays are one of the best tools the dentist has to assess your tooth health. They do not always reveal the crack. Sometimes other signs of a crack may show up such as the health of the pulp or possible bone loss.
Having completed these checks and made use of their tools they will usually have found the problem and determined the extent of the issue and the steps needed to resolve it.
Repairing a chipped tooth is easier than you might think
Repairing a chipped tooth can be easy and painless if the chip is within enamel.
It is well worth visiting your dentist to find out your options.
Dr Chhaya Chauhan – In-house dentist – GDC Number: 83940
Treatments for tooth damage
The suggestions for treatment, and best course of treatment, will all depend on the cause and extent of the damage.
Whilst not limited to these approaches, the following 6 are the most commonly used, depending on the damage.
- Cosmetic contouring
- Where the damage is minor and does not require reconstruction, any rough edges are smoothed out and the edge softened through a polishing procedure that blends the crack or chip into the natural look of the tooth.
- Dental filling or bonding
- This process restores the tooth by using special dental materials to essentially fill and rebuild the tooth. Molded to the shape of the tooth, it is glued in place and hardened using light and gives a natural look once complete.
- Where larger alteration are needed, the veneer is crafted in a dental lab, rather than in the chair. It will mask the damage to the tooth to give a natural appearance, although the veneer itself is artificial. It is bonded to the tooth and the natural tooth must be healthy and in good shape to allow this. Learn a lot more by reading our article dedicated to veneers and their costs.
- Dental crown (full or partial)
- Where the damage to the tooth is more severe, either a partial or full artificial tooth crown is precision crafted and then bonded to the tooth to give extra strength and retain as much as possible of the natural tooth as possible. Often necessary to ensure the success of root canal treatment. Learn a lot more by reading our article dedicated to crowns.
- Root canal treatment/therapy
- When the pulp inside the tooth has been damaged such treatment allows for the natural tooth to be retained. The canals within the teeth are cleaned and filled to restore some strength to the tooth. The need for such treatment generally means more extensive damage to the crown of the tooth and often an artificial crown is also required to ensure a successful treatment and a long lasting fix. Learn a lot more by reading our article on root canal treatment.
- Where the tooth is too badly broken or damaged or the likelihood of successful restoration from any of the other mentioned treatments is low. It is a last resort option. It will lead to a gap that will for the sake of your smile and confidence need some form of artificial tooth to be fitted, be that a denture, bridge or implant. Learn a lot more by reading our article on tooth extraction.
Unlike your bones and skin, teeth do not have the ability to heal and regrow. This means that once damaged the only routes to retaining and restoring them is by using techniques that dentists offer.
Whilst these treatments can restore the teeth, they are doing so artificially and are never as good or as strong as ‘natural’ healing.
With prompt treatment by a professional, any of these procedures can help save the tooth and retain it in good shape for years to come.
All efforts will be made to ensure long term success , but no treatment is a complete guarantee and complications may arise years later.
A very common sight for dentists is a chip to the tooth.
Some are more significant than others, but a large number are very small and barely noticeable.
In many cases people do not know when the tooth chipped.
Although small chips are most common, it still affects the look of your smile, particularly if it is one or more of your front teeth that are chipped.
Chips will normally just damage the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel. More often than not there is no pain associated with a chip in the tooth.
However, it is possible the chip is larger and reaches and even exposes the softer tissues inside, which would be much more painful.
Some of the reasons you may consider getting a chip repaired are:
- If it is causing you pain.
- It is affecting your confidence to smile and you do not like the way it looks.
- You have been left with a sharp edge on the tooth that is uncomfortable and possibly cutting other tissues in the mouth.
You do not have to get a chip repaired if it is not causing you any pain, but getting it checked out is always worth doing as the damage is not always visible.
Repairing chipped teeth
For the smallest or least noticeable of chips it is not necessary to get them repaired.
Unless it is causing you pain or you are conscious of it, you can go the rest of your life never repairing it, the function of the tooth is not compromised.
If the chip has left a slightly sharp edge a very simple cosmetic contouring procedure can smooth the edge of the tooth so it is not sharp and will not cut soft tissues like the cheeks and tongue.
When done right, the cosmetic contouring will essentially get rid of the smallest chips and blend the tooth in such a way you would never even know it was chipped originally.
If the chip is a little larger, a process called bonding is what the dentist will opt for in most cases. Your dentist will use special composite agents to rebuild the tooth as you sit in the chair.
It really does not take all that long. The tooth coloured composite is layered onto the tooth that has been cleaned, and etched with an acid to give a rougher surface for the composite to stick to.
The dentist will shape and harden the composite in the process of transforming the tooth.
When complete, the tooth looks as good as new and you would barely know that a part of your natural tooth is missing.
For larger chips, where bonding is not suitable a veneer is an option.
With a crack comes the higher likelihood of pain and sensitivity in the tooth, particularly when eating.
That said, not all will know if they have cracked a tooth as the fractures in the enamel can be tiny and show not signs; although over time they generally will.
Cracked teeth require a dentist’s intervention as it is more serious than a chip and if not found and dealt with the consequences are more severe.
You and I may say cracked tooth, but this is just a general term. A dentist actually classifies the damage differently based on the way the tooth has cracked, as this can too affect the treatment required.
Based on the location and length of the crack in your tooth, it will be labelled as:
- Craze lines
A crack that exists only on the outer enamel of the tooth, they are very common in adults and pose no real threat.
In many cases they can simply be left as this is a natural occurrence in the tooth structure.
However, dentists will monitor these cracks over the years as you have regular dental checkups. This is to make sure they are not getting bigger or becoming an issue.
In some cases because of the imperfection they leave in the tooth surface it may be polished to minimize the visual impact of the craze lines.
- Fractured/cracked cusps
The cusp is the pointed part of the biting surface of the tooth.
Fractured or cracked cusps often occur in teeth that already have a filling.
The crack begins in the upper chewing area of the tooth, but spreads towards the root. Molars are well known for such.
A cusp may actually break off, but rarely will this result in damage to the pulp and is therefore not normally painful.
The use of a filling, inlay, or crown are the main treatment options.
- Cracked tooth
A typical cracked tooth is where the fracturing of the tooth enamel extends from the chewing surface down towards the tooth root, but has not yet separated the tooth into multiple pieces.
If the crack has made its way to the pulp, root canal treatment will be necessary to protect from further damage but the tooth can ultimately be saved.
Where the crack is more significant and extends below the gumline, the tooth will likely need to be removed.
- Split tooth
More often than not a split tooth will expose the softer dentin and pulp of the tooth.
As a result the tooth can be very painful and sensitive when eating and drinking.
The pulp can become inflamed and damaged.
The crack will run vertically down the tooth with distinct segments that can be separated.
Larger teeth such as molars with multiple roots are easier to repair than those split teeth with just 1 root.
A split tooth is often a result of a cracked tooth not being treated and the crack progressing.
The size and position of the crack will determine how much or if the tooth can be saved.
- Vertical root fracture
Beginning in the root the crack can spread up towards the chewing surface and through to the outer enamel of the tooth.
They often show minimal signs and symptoms and may, therefore, go unnoticed for some time.
Such fractures are often only discovered when the surrounding bone or gum becomes infected.
Repairing cracked teeth
How the tooth has cracked depends on the necessary approach required to repair the tooth.
With the smallest of cracks a filling will more than likely be enough.
Larger fractures may require a partial crown or inlay.
The more significant tooth damage may require a crown and root canal therapy, particularly if the pulp has been exposed or affected.
Or in a few cases extraction might be the only choice.
Root canal treatment removes the nerves and blood supply within the tooth and replaces it with a filling. This retains the natural tooth, but crowns are often necessary afterwards due to the weakened state of the tooth and reduce risk of reinfection with bacteria.
Where treatment has not been sought or the crack is left untreated the chances of a successful restoration are reduced.
Dentists will do all they can to save natural teeth, but in the worse case scenario, extraction may well be necessary, particularly in the case of a vertical root fracture.
If your tooth tooth psychically breaks this is most often when you will really feel the pain and be all to aware of the damage.
A large chunk or piece of tooth usually comes off.
The pain and sensitivity is felt because in the case of a broken tooth, the dental pulp, the very core of the tooth has been exposed.
The nerves and blood supply are coming in contact with with air, saliva and other substances in the mouth causing increased sensitivity.
If there is no pain, it is a temporary relief as this is normally a sign that the damage is so bad the internal structure of the tooth has been damaged beyond repair. In this instance decay or infection may have been present for some time already.
Emergency dental care is often needed here.
Repairing broken teeth
A piece of my tooth broke off – shall I keep the piece of tooth?
Yes. Any information you can provide the dentist with can be very useful.
Dr Chhaya Chauhan – In-house dentist – GDC Number: 83940
Physically broken teeth can be the hardest to save and restore, but the dental team will do all they can to save it.
Molars tend to be the teeth that have the largest pieces break off (cusps) but due to their shape and thickness are the ones often easier to restore.
However, trying to save a tooth can bring its own complications and there will be times where is is better to remove it if the likelihood of successful restoration is low.
As a break can influence the strength and rigidity of the teeth a dental crown is often a common requirement.
With the molars, a partial crown, also known as an inlay or onlay can quite often be used. Inlays are more comprehensive than a filling. It is not normally made or placed instantly like a filling. Made in a dental lab, the inlay is precision crafted to allow for restoration of the tooth, but not are extensive as a full traditional crown.
If decay is the root cause of the break in the tooth, root canal therapy might be a option for repair or it might be necessary to extract it. However, broken teeth are well known for being more problematic as they are more fragile and are susceptible to further breaks when being removed.
The most common mistake people make when they have a broken tooth?
Often people mistake a broken tooth for dental decay. I often have patients who think they have chipped a back tooth, which is actually hard to do, and then they don’t do anything about it! The problem with this is they decay won’t heal itself and ends up getting worse to the point where root canal treatment or tooth removal is required.
Dr Gemma Wheeler – In-house dentist – GDC Number: 259369
Replacing damaged teeth
If the tooth has to be removed then you will initially be left with a gap.
Dentists will advise prior to removal what the consequences will be and what solutions are available to restore the smile.
You need not be Mr or Mrs Gappy just because a tooth has to be removed.
Advances in dental technology allows for some of the most realistic artificial teeth you could imagine.
Dentures are the most common and affordable form of replacement teeth, with dental bridges and crowns being other options.
Where it is just 1 tooth being replaced they tend to be minimal in their impact and more reasonably priced than you might expect.
Cracked tooth syndrome (CTS)
In many respects, it can be ideal for you and the dentist if a crack is obvious. This way everyone knows what the problem and solution is.
However, symptoms can suggest a cracked or damaged tooth, but the crack in the tooth is not immediately apparent.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome (CTS) is a condition where the fractures is incomplete and the part of the tooth has not broken off. The fractures are so small that they do not show on an x-ray and the. They can be below the gumline and often occur in molars.
The condition usually means you suffer pain when you bite and chew, but it will not happen all the time. The sensitivity felt may only occur when specific foods are eaten or you bite in a certain way.
You may consult your dentist for treatment, but they have to find the cause of your pain.
CTS can be difficult to diagnose as highlighted by the Journal of Pharmacy and BioAllied Sciences.
It can be a painstaking process of elimination, going through different teeth, running tests to try and find the cracks.
A tool called an explorer is often used. The sharp edge of this can catch on cracks and may exert a pain that you feel, which can can confirm or deny locations of the cracks requiring treatment.
The dentist may shine a fiber optic light on the teeth or stain it with a dye to help search for a crack.
If the location has been narrowed down, any fillings in the tooth may also be removed to enable better access and reaching the source of the problem.
How long symptoms last depends somewhat on how quickly a cracked tooth can be diagnosed. Even then, treatment may not always completely relieve the symptoms.
Getting dental treatment
Even if you have chipped your tooth and feel no pain or sensitivity as a result, it is our suggestion to go and get the damage checked by a professional.
Depending on what caused it can in turn affect the overall health of the tooth and there can be knock on effects that are not always immediately visible.
This can include cracks or damage below the gumline.
In these instances you can wait a couple of days to see a dentist, you do not normally need an emergency appointment.
Of course, if you have pain as a result, then make sure you book to see a dentist sooner.
Where the damage looks and feels more serious, dental care should be sought much quicker, usually within 24 hours. Speak to your dental office and make them aware so that the severity can be assessed and you can be booked in for an assessment.
Most dental practices will have allowances within their daily schedules for emergency appointments.
If you need to seek assistance outside of the normal operating hours of the dental office, the first thing to do is to ring the office, even if it is closed.
Many will have an answerphone message that will give instruction on what you should do for out of hours treatment. This answerphone message will likely give another number to call or tell you where to go for that medical attention.
You could go to or contact the emergency room, but depending on the hospital will depend on the availability of specialist dental staff.
It is worth checking the American Dental Associations find a dentist tool, available here which allows you to enter your zip code and find dental professionals near you.
Between the incident and seeing a dentist, to help manage pain, you might want to take over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol to ease your discomfort and if there is bleeding, applying a clean gauze over the damaged tooth is advisable.
Depending on the damage done to the tooth will as we have explained depend on the treatment necessary.
Whilst contouring, bonding and extractions can be done by your general dentist, if root canal therapy is required, you may be passed onto a Endodontist, who is specially trained diagnosing tooth pain and performing root canal treatment and other procedures relating to the interior of the tooth.
Cost of repairing chipped, cracked and broken teeth
We would love to be able to quote you a fixed cost for the work you might need to have your broken tooth repaired.
However, as you will have seen there are different types of damage that can exist and different treatments that are necessary, depending on the extent of damage.
In any situation you will need or have an initial consultation appointment that will diagnose the problem and the necessary solution. It is at this point you can discuss options and prices and whether there are alternative solutions.
The following are some rough guidelines of costs that might be associated with such tooth damage.
- $100–$1,000 for dental bonding.
- $1,000–$1,500 per crown.
- $500–$2,000 for root canal therapy.
- $150–$250 for a tooth extraction.
Therefore for a simple chip that you want cosmetically rectified, you will be looking up to $1000.
However, should you need to have root canal therapy and a crown as part of the restoration process you could be looking of costs in excess of $3000.
These costs do not include any other associated fees such as x-rays and additional check up visits that may well be needed.
Are chipped, cracked and broken teeth covered on dental insurance?
The answer to this question very much depends on your insurance policy.
Every policy is different and will cover some things, but not all.
Whilst not necessarily applicable for you, many insurance plans have what’s described as “100-80-50” coverage.
This means it pays 100 percent of the cost of routine preventive care, covers 80 percent for fillings, root canals and other basic procedures; and 50 percent for crowns, bridges and major procedures.
This may well mean that whilst you may have to pay for some of the treatment, your dental insurance company may cover a large proportion of it.
Depending on the damage to your tooth and the necessary treatment will of course have a bearing on what is and is not covered.
To be assured you should refer to your insurance policy and question your provider for specific answers if it is not clear.
In almost all scenarios, you will be expected to pay something towards the treatment.
DIY and at home repair kits
You can find a solution for most things on the internet and this includes kits that you can use to repair your own tooth.
Most of the kits that are available have been designed to fix teeth that have been chipped or broken without causing damage to the internal structure of the tooth.
The repair is often temporary and will not last.
EXTREME caution should be advised when using kits like this and we strongly advise staying well clear.
They may well work and be a cheap fix, but it is not always possible to verify the safety and reliability of these products like you can those from dental professionals. We question whether the risks are worth it.
Whilst you may wish not to pay for your dentist to reconstruct your tooth if chipped, you should still get an assessment completed to ensure there is no other damage to the tooth, that is not immediately visible.
Complications of a cracked tooth
Any professional dental treatment to fix cracked teeth will usually last for many years.
Although, because the tooth does not heal like a bone does, these treatments are not guaranteed to last a lifetime and complications will occur in the worst case scenarios.
The biggest risk and cause of complication is not getting a cracked tooth treated.
Failing to get it treated can lead to infection, which will in time spread to the bone and gums, resulting in pain, dental treatment time and costs more severe than having got the crack or original symptoms checked out earlier.
Typical symptoms of a dental infection include:
- Dental abscess
- Pain when chewing
- Swollen gums
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Tender glands in the neck
- Bad breath
Avoiding chipped, cracked or broken teeth
To avoid all chance of doing damage to your teeth, you simply could not live life.
Avoiding hard boiled sweets and potentially dangerous physical contact sports are 2 options, but not ones we or most would recommend as all things considered the risks are relatively low.
Our teeth are on the whole very robust and it is more a case of considering preventative steps rather than avoiding things all together.
Most of these preventative things are fairly straight forward and ‘common sense’ advice. For example, it makes sense not to use your teeth to open bottles or product packaging. Avoid actively biting down on food and sweets you know will be very hard, such as boiled sweets. Do not grind your teeth or clench them.
If you get involved with contact sports such as football, boxing, wrestling wearing a mouthguard is a good step to take.
Even some other sports like hockey are known for resulting in quite serious injuries to the teeth as the puck or ball can hit players in the face.
Whilst off the shelf, ‘boil and bite’ mouthguards can help, the protection offered is minimal. For those regularly partaking in such sports, custom fitted mouthguards available from your dentist are much more effective.
They are more expensive and is being used by children, will require regular replacement as the mouth changes, but can be a worthwhile investment.
Aside from this, there are some other steps you can take that will help keep your teeth strong and reduce the chances of the tooth fracturing.
- Reduce the amount of sugar consumed be that fizzy drinks or snacks.
- Drink water after eating snacks to wash away and dilute the sugars.
- Chew sugar free gum.
- Brush and floss the teeth regularly to stop decay forming which can weaken the teeth.
- Do not rinse the mouth after brushing
- Have regular dental checkups to look for potential damage and asses over oral health.
No matter how well you look after your teeth, by brushing properly, taking good care of them and eating the right food, accidents and life happens. Most important here is dealing with what happens most appropriately.
Some damage to your teeth is more obvious than others.
Whether obvious or not, you should always get any of the symptoms or concerns you have checked out.
It is much better to get problems dealt with quicker, rather than them being left and developing into something more serious.
Chips to the teeth common, cracks and breakages happen frequently too.
We hope this article has given you more insight and understanding as to how and why such happens and the possible treatment options.
Is chipped tooth an emergency?
Dentists would not normally consider a chipped tooth an emergency. Most chips in teeth are pain-free with no bleeding or trauma to the tooth and little or no pain.
It is advisable to see a dentist soon after chipping the tooth for a professional opinion and to make sure no other damage exists, as depending on how the tooth was chipped it may cause other damage that was or is not obvious to yourself.
How are chipped teeth fixed?
Click here to read the section of the article dedicated to repairing chipped teeth.
How to fix a chipped tooth at home?
There are solutions that exist to fix a chipped tooth at home, none of which we advise getting or trying. They might be cheaper and do the job, but they are not necessarily permanent or reliable. It is always best to see a professional for fixing such damage.
What to do if my baby, toddler or child chips or breaks a tooth?
For the most part the steps involved with dealing with a baby, toddler or child with a broken tooth is much the same as it is for you and I as adults.
However, where some adults tend not to worry and brush off damage until it causes any issue, it is very important that you get any child with tooth damage checked out.
Unless appropriate this need not be an emergency appointment, but the earliest available by your dental practice.
Checks will be made to the extent of any damage and considerations for treatment made.
Small chips might be filed down to make them smooth, a break may be shaped or filled or the tooth removed if it is a baby tooth.
Chipped tooth – what to do?
Get the tooth checked over by a dental professional.
This whole article goes into a lot of detail on what to do and the steps involved, but the information available here on seeing a dentist summarises what you need to know and do.
Your comments and opinions
If you should have any questions, comments or opinions you would like to add to this guide, please do so, by commenting below.
Should you have had a cracked tooth yourself, why not share some feedback for others to take advantage of.
- American Association of Endodontists
- Sunrise Family Dentistry
- Tooth Club
- Barns Dental Practice
- Ethicare Dental
- Creekside Endodontics
- Parke Rogers
- Austin Endodontics
- Dental Plans
- Oral Health Foundation
8 thoughts on “Tooth repair: how to fix a chipped, cracked or broken tooth”
I am now 82 years old and have now 5 upper jaw teeth that have broken off just at the gum line. The remaining broken off teeth are not sensitive when I push on them. Why not use the composite material to build up the broken section of the teeth above the gum line with a sandblasting to remove soft material and then cover the stub of the tooth on the first treatment? A second treatment would be to shape the composite material sticking above the gum line to take a permanent composite tooth? I had one of my upper molars starting to crack into small pieces. The molar was sharp to my tongue so a dentist years ago covered the molar with some composite to prevent it from braking up any further and not to cut my tongue. This repair seems to be very successful for years now. Can this same repair be done to a broken off tooth that has a good root? Why pull a perfectly good tooth with a broken off top section and install an implant? Micro-sandblasting is not a new procedure which is used to prepare a tooth with a cavity to accept the composite filling which has proven to be much better than undercutting the tooth to accept the old silver amalgam fillings which do not stick to the tooth material. With the proper modern dental equipment, a dentist may be able to restore a broken off tooth to be maybe even better than the original. Let me be a test of this procedure so I can live my life out with good chewing. Tucson AZ
Some interesting points and questions here.
There are arguments for either side of the points you raise.
In reality the best thing to do it go and visit a dentist locally. Explain the situation, have them make an assessment and advise you what they can do based on your personal circumstances.
Approximately 3 years ago I was playing golf and got to close to a ravine full of rocks. I accidentally fell this 8 foot deep ravine landing on my back with my head and neck hitting the rocks. I dislocated my right shoulder. My shoulder got better, but about 1-2 weeks later I started experiencing right upper teeth and jaw pain. I been to multiple dentist with no relief of symptoms. I am a Physician Assistant retired. I have done a lot of reading and I think that this may be a cracked tooth syndrome from traumatic accident. I wear a bite plate at night with minimal relief of pain. Please help me if you can because the pain is constant
Sorry to read of your troubles. Cracked tooth syndrome is a condition that can be experienced in teeth.
The fractures are often so small that they do not show on an x-ray and the. They can be below the gumline and often occur in molars. It can be tricky to detect.
The condition usually means you suffer pain when you bite and chew, but it will not happen all the time. The sensitivity felt may only occur when specific foods are eaten or you bite in a certain way.
It is sad to discover you have not been able to get this confirmed by a dentist. I can only suggest trying to speak to other dentists locally who may be able to dedicate the time and attention to really getting to the root cause of the pain.
I had a lot of pressure and thought my crown was moving.
Then i felt a very slight movementnt and a very slight opening behind my front top tooth where the crown is attached. Then the pressure stopped when i touched it. My dentist says i have a horizontal tooth crack right above where my crown is affixed. Its above the gum line. She said it has to be extracted and an implant put in. The crack is above the gumline. Why can’t it be elongated and a new crown put in? Should i trust this diagnosis? My regular dentist is no longer with this firm. Suggestions???
Thanks for the comment.
I am not able to comment specifically and give medical advice on what you should or should not do. I personally am not a dentist.
We have dentists on our team who I could refer this too, but the reality is they would really need to make an observation themselves to make a precise judgement. Which is of course not feasible.
That said, based on what you have written, and what I know I do believe your dentist’s suggestion is right.
Crowns rely on the core of the tooth being strong to support the crown and the pressures the teeth come under in daily life. Any crack in the tooth structure weakens the tooth and will in time cause problems if not dealt with.
Dentists can sometimes apply fixes, but they may be temporary and just not last the test of time.
If you are unsure, it is always worth getting a second opinion for peace of mind. Not only that you can use the opportunity to get a different quote for the work to be done, assuming another dentist comes to the same conclusion.
I would to suggest speaking to your current dentist to better understand why they feel that an extraction and implant is appropriate.
There are no dentist open where I live right now due to the pandemic all of them closed. I lost a small part of one of my back molars all the way to the denton you can see everything the side of the tooth is gone. I did have a very old filling there I’m obsessive about brushing my teeth but have a bleeding disorder that sadly might lead to me loosing my teeth. But I’m still left with No dentist due to covid-19 I’m in Virginia my town has them all closed as none essential.
Sorry to read this.
First things first, keeping it clean is important. So good work.
I would make a call to your dentist nonetheless. Different parts of the USA are opening up at different times, but they can advise the best course of action based on your circumstances.
Some are offering appointments with very strict protocol.