How to Fix a Cracked, Chipped, or a Broken Tooth

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How to fix a cracked chipped broken tooth

The teeth are one of the strongest tissues in our body. In fact, they are considered to be as hard as steel according to the Mohs Hardness Scale. However, this does not mean that they are completely indestructible, and they can chip or even break. It’s important to know how to fix a cracked tooth the right way, otherwise, the issue could get worse.

So, if teeth are so incredibly strong, how can they break in the first place?

While sudden accidents and trauma to the mouth can be the cause, generally teeth will crack due to poor care or even genetics.

Teeth that are not cleaned properly may develop decay, which weakens the entire tooth. Further, constant wear from grinding teeth at night and chewing on hard foods or items like pen caps or ice can weaken the enamel.

Some people are genetically predisposed to decay. This often worsens the older you get. So, one day you may bite down on some hard candy, and suddenly your tooth cracks.

If you’ve got cracked, chipped, or broken tooth, you probably want to get it fixed. You should always have a damaged tooth inspected by a dentist. Not only is it unpleasant to look at, but it can also be incredibly painful and even detrimental to your overall oral health.

Why is a Chipped or Cracked Tooth a Dental Emergency?

Broken chipped tooth

First, it is important to explain the differences between these types of teeth damage.

A cracked tooth means that the entire tooth is still intact, but it may be separated into two or more pieces. Often a tooth will crack down the center and it often happens to back molars which get damaged from grinding or biting something hard.

A chipped tooth has a small portion that breaks off. This only involves a portion of the enamel and no part of the root or nerve in the center of the tooth is exposed. This often happens from a fall or trauma to the mouth.

A broken tooth can be quite painful as it means that the majority of the tooth breaks off. This may expose the inner pulp material or part of the root.

If you have any of these types of damage to your teeth, you should see a dentist right away – no matter if you are in pain or not. Even a small crack or chip leaves your tooth exposed, which could cause it to get infected or start to decay.

Further, it could cause the tooth to “die” – meaning that it does not receive any blood flow. This will cause the nerve of the tooth to begin to die which often leads to pain. A missing tooth is far more invasive and often expensive to repair than a broken one. So, you should get it looked at and fixed by a dentist as soon as you can.

Why Do Dentists Fix Cracked, Chipped, or Broken Teeth?

Dentist with patient showing xray with cracked tooth

There are several treatment options that your dentist may suggest. Treatment plans are personalized based on several factors, such as the location of the damage, severity, and overall tooth health.

For example, if the broken tooth is already decayed or severely damaged, your dentist may suggest that it be removed entirely. However, if the damage is smaller and the rest of the tooth is in good shape, it may be easily repaired.

How to Fix a Chipped Tooth

Chipped tooth illustration

A small chip can be repaired using composite filling material, which is a bonding plastic. This is a cosmetic procedure that can be done quite quickly and will not require any local anesthesia in most cases. However, if you are nervous, it is recommended to consult a dentist who offers sedation dentistry.

First, the edge of the chip is buffed out so there are no sharp edges. Then the bonding is added on and shaped so it mimics the missing part of the tooth. This bonding is designed to match the shape and shade of the original tooth and it looks incredibly natural when it is done! You won’t even be able to tell.

Chipped teeth can also be corrected with veneers. These are thin, ceramic coverings that are secured onto the front of the tooth. These are commonly used in cosmetic dentistry to replace discolored or misshapen teeth.

How to Fix a Cracked Tooth

Cracked tooth illustration

Fixing a cracked tooth can be a bit more complicated, depending on the severity of the crack. If the tooth is only partially cracked or is only superficially cracked, it can be repaired with a dental crown. This permanent porcelain or metal cap goes over the tooth to protect it. This can be shaded to match your other teeth and blend right in.

If the crack extends into the nerve of the tooth, then a root canal may be necessary. This is a procedure that involves removing the nerve of the tooth. Once the nerve is removed, It will be filled with a rubber-like material to seal off any bacteria, and a permanent restoration will be placed.

How to Fix a Broken Tooth

Broken tooth illiustration

A severely broken tooth is typically beyond repair. Typically, if more than 50% of the tooth has broken off, the remaining pieces will need to be extracted. After the tooth is removed, a temporary bridge may be placed while the gum and jaw bone heel. A bridge is a ceramic tooth that is attached to the teeth on either side to hold it in place.

After this, your dentist will decide if a dental implant or dental bridge should be used to fill in the gap. If this space is left empty, the remaining teeth around it may start to shift.

Need a Dentist?

If you’ve got any chipped, broken, or cracked, there is no reason to wait to get them fixed. You want to preserve the health of your teeth so you won’t need further procedures later on!

Here at Jones & Copeland Smiles, we have helped hundreds of patients in Georgia achieve the smile of their dreams. We offer cosmetic solutions to repair minor chips and sedation dentistry options for extractions, crowns, and bridges.

If you’d like to learn more about our procedures or you’d like to schedule a consultation visit, you can reach out to us online! One of our team members will get back to you quickly to answer any questions or book you a new patient appointment.


First published on: Sep 2, 2021

Updated on: May 26, 2022


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Eric Jones

Dr. Eric Jones, a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina and Clemson University, is a highly accomplished dentist with a passion for ongoing education and innovation. Holding fellowships with the Academy of General Dentistry and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists, he maintains memberships in numerous professional organizations. He is a sought-after lecturer on cosmetic dentistry, a published researcher, and a clinical instructor for the Clinical Mastery Series. Dr. Jones' dedication to staying at the forefront of dental advancements ensures his patients receive the highest quality of care, prioritizing comfort and minimally invasive techniques.