Dealing with a Broken Tooth

Broken teeth are more than just a cosmetic concern; they can lead to pain, discomfort, and even further dental issues if not addressed promptly. In this blog, we’ll explore the common causes of broken teeth, the steps you should take if you find yourself dealing with one, and the treatment options dentists can offer to restore your smile and dental health.

How Do Teeth Break?

Teeth are incredibly strong, but they are not indestructible. Several factors can lead to a broken tooth, including:

  • Physical Trauma: Accidents, sports injuries, or falls can cause teeth to crack, chip, or break.
  • Chewing Hard Foods: Biting down on hard foods like nuts, ice, or hard candy can cause teeth to break.
  • Decay and Weakness: Teeth weakened by decay or with large fillings that don’t support the remaining structure are more susceptible to breaking.
  • Temperature Extremes: Exposing teeth to extreme temperature changes, such as eating something very hot and then drinking something cold, can cause thermal stress and fractures.
  • Grinding and Clenching: Habitual grinding (bruxism) or clenching can put excessive force on teeth, leading to cracks or breaks over time.

Immediate Steps to Take

If you break a tooth, taking the following steps can help manage the situation and prevent further damage:

  1. Rinse Your Mouth: Use warm water to rinse your mouth gently to clean the area and remove any tooth fragments.
  1. Control Swelling and Pain: Apply a cold compress to the cheek or lips over the broken tooth to reduce swelling. For pain, over-the-counter analgesics like ibuprofen can be helpful.
  1. Protect Your Mouth: If the broken tooth has sharp edges, cover them with sugar-free gum or dental wax to protect your tongue and cheeks.
  1. Modify Your Diet: Stick to soft foods and avoid biting down on the broken tooth until you can see a dentist.
  1. See a Dentist Promptly: Schedule an emergency dental appointment. Many dental offices can accommodate urgent cases or provide guidance on immediate next steps.

How Dentists Fix Broken Teeth

The treatment for a broken tooth depends on the extent of the damage. Here are common solutions dentists use:

Dental Bonding: 

For minor chips, a dentist might apply a tooth-colored composite resin to repair the damage. This procedure is relatively simple and can often be completed in one visit.

Dental Crown: 

A more significant break might require a crown. The dentist will shape the remaining tooth and cover it with a crown (cap) made of metal, porcelain, or composite material, restoring its shape, strength, and appearance.

Root Canal Therapy: 

If the break is severe enough to expose the tooth’s pulp, a root canal might be necessary to remove damaged pulp and seal the tooth, followed by a crown to protect it.

Dental Veneers: 

For front teeth, veneers might be an option. These thin porcelain shells are bonded to the front of the tooth to restore its appearance.

Tooth Extraction and Replacement: 

In cases where the tooth cannot be saved, it may need to be extracted. Replacement options include dental implants, bridges, or dentures.

Preventing Broken Teeth

While not all broken teeth can be prevented, you can significantly reduce your risk by wearing a mouthguard during sports, avoiding chewing on hard objects, and maintaining good oral hygiene to keep teeth strong. Additionally, addressing teeth grinding with a custom mouthguard can protect your teeth from excessive wear and tear.


A broken tooth can be unsettling, but prompt action and professional dental care can effectively address the issue. By understanding the causes, knowing what steps to take immediately, and being aware of the treatment options available, you can handle a broken tooth confidently and minimize its impact on your oral health. Remember, regular dental check-ups are crucial for identifying potential issues early and preventing incidents like broken teeth.

Dr. Snehlata Kulhari

Dr. Snehlata Kulhari completed her Bachelors of Dental Surgery (BDS) at Government Dental College in Punjab, India and her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree at the Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine in Boston. She has been practicing dentistry since 2011 and has founded Smile Mantra Family Dentistry to provide dental care and education to the community of Cary, NC. Dr. Kulhari stays up to date on the latest dental research and advancements in order to offer her patients exceptional dental care. 


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