Discovering you have a broken tooth may leave you feeling concerned but swift action from your dentist can help put things right. To help you manage this dental situation, we’ll explain what causes teeth to break, what happens during a tooth break, and what treatments are available for repairing a broken tooth at the dentist.
What causes teeth to break?
Teeth may break because of an impact or because the strength of the tooth has been compromised in some way. Some common broken tooth causes include¹:
- Being struck in the mouth during sports activities.
- Falling or tripping and hitting your mouth.
- Cavities weakening the structure of your tooth.
- Old fillings affecting your tooth strength.
- Bruxism (the medical term for teeth grinding or clenching).
- Sudden changes in temperature against your teeth.
- Biting hard food, or biting on hard objects.
These events may not only cause you to break a piece of your tooth off; you can also experience a cracked tooth – where a fissure appears in the surface – or a chipped tooth – where a small part of the tooth is broken off or split.
What happens when a tooth breaks?
Exactly what happens in your mouth when you break a tooth will depend on the type, and depth, of the break. Here are a few symptoms to look out for to help you identify if you have a broken tooth.
- Smaller breaks and chips
Smaller breaks in the tooth may only chip the enamel. Although this won’t necessarily cause you any pain, you may experience sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet things – prompting you to visit the dentist.
- Deeper breaks and cracks
If your tooth enamel breaks away to expose the soft centre of your tooth (the pulp) then you may experience broken tooth pain as nerves and blood vessels supplying your tooth can become exposed. If left untreated, bacteria could also infect the exposure area which may cause further pain and even lead to inflammation of the pulp which could result in the loss of the tooth if not taken care of¹.
What to do while waiting for the dentist to fix broken tooth
Your dentist will know how best to fix broken tooth and it’s important to get in touch with them as soon as you realise you’ve broken a tooth – even if it doesn’t hurt. While you wait for your appointment, you may be able to help relieve broken tooth pain and limit any further damage to your teeth with these tips:
- Hold a cold compress on the outside of your mouth/cheek.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water to remove any blood or debris.
- If you have the broken off pieces of tooth – or even knocked out the whole tooth – rinse it clean and store in a container of milk².
- Avoid chewing with the broken tooth as much as possible.
If you have a broken tooth, you should always see a dental professional at the earliest possible moment but if you can see exposed red pulp or yellow dentin, you’ll need to see a dentist straight away. Exposed pulp or dentin can lead to serious dental issues, including inflammation of the pulp¹.
Treatment options for repairing a broken tooth
If you’re not sure how to fix a broken tooth, don’t worry. There a few different treatment options that your dentist can offer you depending on the type of depth of the break. These treatments include⁴:
- Fillings or bonding: For minor breaks, your dentist may be able to use a filling to fix the damage or carry out bonding – a process of applying surface etching, adhesive and composite resin.
- A cap or crown: This involves creating a new chewing surface for the broken tooth. It might be made of porcelain, resin, or ceramic. This type of treatment may be used when you’ve broken off a large piece of tooth but the pulp is intact.
- Root canal and crown: If the break has revealed the pulp, and it’s infected, your dentist might need to clean out the root canal, remove the dead pulp, and then seal it with a crown on top. This may be needed with tooth breaks that extend below the gum line, like a vertical root fracture.
- Extraction and implant: If the broken tooth can’t be repaired, your dentist may need to remove the tooth completely. An implant can be fitted to take its place and avoid gaps in your smile.
- Veneer: For front teeth that are broken, a thin shell made of resin composite or porcelain may be cemented onto the surface to fix and cover the damage.
What to do after your broken tooth has been treated
You’ll want to take care of your broken tooth once it’s fixed, and your dentist will advise you on any action to take immediately after treatment to aide your recovery.
Moving forward, there are certain precautions you’ll want to take to help protect your teeth from damage. This might include:
- Wearing a gum shield when playing sport or activities where your teeth may be damaged through injury.
- Maintaining good oral health practices such as brushing twice a day and regularly flossing.
- Using a toothpaste that strengthens your enamel, like Regenerate’s Advanced Toothpaste is powered by exclusive and clinically proven NR-5™ technology. NR-5™ is able to regenerate tooth enamel mineral*, reversing the early enamel erosion process, keeping teeth healthy and strong.
Following the tips in this article, as well as maintaining good oral hygiene and regularly visiting your dentist will help you to enjoy a happy, healthy smile and help reduce the risk of painful damage.
*Acts on early invisible stages of enamel erosion by restoring its mineral content and micro hardness with regular use. Clinically proven.
The advice in this article does not constitute medical advice; it is solely available for information purposes. We recommend that you consult your dentist If you are experiencing any dental problems.