Our teeth are protected by enamel. This hard, mineralized outer shell of our teeth is actually one of the strongest substances in the human body. Despite its strength, it can still get damaged. Injury or wear and tear can result in chips, cracks, and broken teeth.
If one of your teeth gets damaged, it should be seen by a dentist right away. A chipped or broken tooth can cause sensitivity, pain, swelling, and irritation. If left untreated, it can also lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Keep reading to find out what to do if you break a tooth.
What causes teeth to chip or break?
Teeth can chip, crack, or break for a number of reasons. Here are some of the most common causes:
- Aging and natural wear and tear: Most chips and cracks in permanent teeth happen after the age of 50.
- Biting down on hard foods: Crunchy and very chewy foods are also common culprits.
- Chronic teeth grinding (bruxism): Over time, teeth grinding during sleep can wear down your enamel and lead to breakage.
- Trauma: Falls, car accidents, sports, and other activities can lead to injury and broken teeth.
You can reduce your risk of sustaining chips and cracks by practicing good oral hygiene; avoiding crunchy, chewy, and overly acidic foods; and wearing a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
When to see a dentist
How to deal with a chipped tooth while you wait for your appointment
If you’re in significant distress, you should try to get in to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible. But if you need to wait to see a dentist or dental implant specialist, it’s important to take good care of the damaged tooth and surrounding area while you wait.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Rinse your mouth with lukewarm water.
- Carefully apply a cold compress to help with immediate pain; do not apply pressure.
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers as needed to manage pain and sensitivity.
- Do NOT apply crushed aspirin to the affected tooth; this can damage your enamel and irritate your gums.
- Take note of all your symptoms so you can communicate them accurately to your dental care provider.
Treatments for broken teeth
The ideal treatment for your chipped tooth will depend largely on the severity of the damage. Some cracks are surface-level or only impact the tip of the tooth. But serious breaks can extend through the entire tooth and even expose the root. This can cause pain and leave you vulnerable to infection.
Solutions for minor chips
If the damage is minor, such as a small chip on the surface of the tooth’s enamel, it can usually be corrected with a bonding or filling procedure. In these cases, your dentist will use composite material to fill in the crack and smooth out the surface of the affected tooth.
If only the tip of your tooth is damaged, a crown or other tooth replacement can be placed to correct the appearance and function of the tooth.
Dental implants for severe damage
For a completely broken tooth or one that has sustained a deep crack all the way to the root, a dental implant will likely be the most effective treatment.
Dental implants are small titanium screws that can act as a substitute for the root of a tooth. They’re used to secure a permanent replacement tooth that will look and feel just like a real one.
At Smart Arches, we can extract your broken tooth before placing a high-quality, modern dental implant. We’ll utilize advanced x-ray and imaging technology to create a customized tooth replacement that will match the color and shape of your existing teeth. Your replacement will be a long-term solution that looks completely natural and restores the function of your smile.
See our dental implant specialists!
At Smart Arches, we provide individualized dental implant services to patients every day. If you’ve sustained a chipped or broken tooth, our experienced team of specialists can assess the damage and provide you with a permanent solution.
Our dental implant process is simple, straightforward, and patient-focused. We’ll help to ease your pain and restore the look and function of your tooth with a comfortable procedure that’s customized to your specific needs and oral anatomy.