Broken Tooth? Here’s What You Need to Do!

There are numerous ways that your teeth can be damaged, whether it’s a random accident, a hard hit at roller derby, or neglectful dental care. Thankfully, your teeth and smile are not beyond repair if you have a broken tooth.

Knowing what to do in a dental emergency can save your tooth. It’s time to learn why teeth break, how you can avoid it, and what you can do if it happens to you.

roller derby knocked out teeth

Why Do Teeth Crack or Break?

Although the enamel covering your teeth is the strongest tissue on your body, it’s not totally invincible. Here are five ways you can break your teeth, or damage them enough to increase your risk of breaking them.

  1. A traumatic blow: A traumatic blow or crash can easily cause a tooth to crack or break.
  2. Bad habits: There are bad chewing habits that wear away the enamel on your teeth. Avoiding these can make your teeth stronger.
  3. Not wearing a mouthguard: If you play a high-intensity sport like football, you need to wear a mouthguard. Otherwise, you put your teeth at risk.
  4. Bad dental hygiene: Cavities or tooth erosion can also weaken your teeth.
  5. Harmful foods and drinks: Coffee, citrus, ice, hard candies, soda, potato chips, alcohol, dried fruit, and sports drinks are all delicious. However, they’re really bad for your teeth.

Symptoms of a Broken Tooth

Apart from the obviously broken look of the tooth, you may also experience the following symptoms if you have a cracked or fractured tooth:

  • Erratic pain when chewing
  • Pain when exposed to extreme temperatures
  • Throbbing pain that comes and goes

Are Your Teeth Broken or Cracked?

If you’re wondering whether your teeth are cracked or broken, paying attention to your symptoms is very important. Here are the major differences between cracked and broken teeth.

Cracked Teeth

The damage to cracked or fractured teeth isn’t always visible. However, you’ll definitely notice the pain. A constant toothache is a sign of a damaged nerve or blood vessel. Sometimes, it won’t hurt when you bite down on the tooth, but you’ll feel the pain once you release the bite.

Broken Teeth

Whether it’s caused by tooth decay or an accident, it’s best to see your dentist as soon as possible if you have a broken tooth. If the break damaged a nerve, you may need a root canal treatment.

Types of Broken or Cracked Teeth

Cracked or broken teeth are serious injuries that can’t be treated at home. You need to see your dentist to mend the broken tooth or teeth. Here are the different types of fractured teeth.

Craze lines

Also called minor cracks, these are cracks that affect the enamel (the outer white surface of the tooth). They’re often shallow and cause no pain. And your dentist may only need to polish the area to smooth out the rough spots.


Minor chips usually won’t require treatment either. If they don’t cause pain, they’re not a cause for concern. That is unless you’re worried about how the chipped tooth looks.

Cracked Tooth

If the fracture affects the whole tooth, from the enamel to the nerve, you have a cracked tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are crucial for saving it. Without treatment, the crack gradually spreads and worsens beyond repair.

Serious Broken Tooth

This type of break almost always causes tooth sensitivity and aches because it’s deep enough to expose the nerve. Sometimes, the broken part of the tooth will bleed.

Split Tooth

This type of break occurs when the tooth has split vertically into separate parts. This is often the result of a long-term cracked tooth.

Broken Cusp

This occurs when the cusped, pointed chewing surfaces of teeth are broken. A broken cusp doesn't always cause much pain because it doesn’t affect the pulp.

Decay-Induced Break

When a cavity weakens a tooth from the inside out, it can lead to a broken tooth. Good dental hygiene is the best way to avoid tooth decay and cavities.

Vertical Root Fracture

These cracks begin at the root of the tooth and extend up towards the chewing surface. If they become infected, the area around the root will become inflamed and cause pain.

What You Can Do If You Have a Broken Tooth

It’s important that you see a dentist as soon as possible if you have a broken tooth. However, that may not always be possible. Even if it is, you still have to get to the dentist with the best chances of saving your tooth.

That’s why the most important thing is to stay calm. Panicking can do more harm than good. So, take a deep breath and get ready to take action. 

Next, follow these steps if you have a broken tooth:

  1. Save your broken tooth if you can.
  2. Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.
  3. If you’re in pain, take over-the-counter pain medication, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
  4. To prevent a sharp or jagged edge from cutting your tongue or mouth, cover the broken tooth with a piece of wax paraffin or sugar-free chewing gum.
  5. If you need to eat, stick to soft foods and avoid using your broken tooth to chew.
  6. Go to the dentist as soon as you can. 

When you arrive at the dentist, they’ll assess the situation and recommend the best course of action to repair your broken tooth and restore your smile.

What can your dentist do to fix your broken tooth? These are the common dental procedures.

Dental Filling and Bonding

With minor fractures, your tooth may need only a filling to be repaired. For front teeth, a dentist will use a tooth-colored composite resin to repair teeth, called bonding.

Since it’s a simple procedure, bonding usually doesn’t require local anesthetics. First, the dentist roughens the surface of the tooth before adding adhesive. Then, they’ll apply the bonding material, shaping it to look like a natural tooth. Finally, the dentist will use ultraviolet light to harden the material.

Root Canal

Root canals seem scary, but they really aren’t. It’s a necessary procedure when the crack in a tooth extends into the pulp. If you are experiencing tooth sensitivity, swelling, or a toothache, you are likely in need of a root canal. 

This treatment involves removing the nerve and decayed tooth matter. Then, the root canal is cleaned and sealed. If necessary, a crown will be added. Without immediate treatment, a broken tooth can cause the infection to spread and lead to other serious health problems. So, don’t put off getting a root canal. (They’re not as bad as the myths make them out to be.)

Dental Veneers

Dental veneers are usually used for damaged front teeth, as this treatment provides the most realistic and attractive results. Plus, they can last up to 30 years, so you won’t need to replace them regularly.

A veneer is a resin composite material or tooth-colored porcelain material that is placed on the whole front of the tooth, transforming the tooth’s appearance.

To prepare your teeth for veneers, your dentist will remove some of the tooth enamel so it won’t look bulky. Then, they take impressions of the tooth and send it to a dental lab to make your veneer. This usually takes a couple of weeks. 

Once ready, the surface of teeth must be etched and roughed with liquid. The dentist will place the veneer on the tooth using special cement, and they’ll use a special light to activate the chemicals and harden it.

Dental Implant

If your tooth can’t be saved, you may need to have a dental implant. If the crack or fracture extends below the gum line, it’s best to extract the tooth.

Then, you can receive your dental implant to take the place of your missing tooth. Usually, this implant is made of titanium or zirconia

This procedure often takes several months because your jaw bone needs to heal to the implant. Once complete, dental implants act as roots for an artificial tooth, securely placed in your jawbone.

Dental Crown

Crowns are a common form of restorative treatment for fractured or broken teeth. There are various materials that make great permanent crowns: porcelain, ceramic, metal, porcelain fused to metal, or resin. Each has its own benefits.

If the root of the tooth is still intact after breakage, your dentist may need to perform a root canal and build up the structure before adding a dental crown.

A dental crown procedure usually only takes a couple of visits to the dentist’s office. First, they may take an x-ray to examine the surrounding bone and roots. If there are no issues found, the dentist will numb the tooth area, remove some of the remaining tooth, and prepare the area for a crown. 

You may also need a filling if there are large chips or breaks in the tooth. Then, the dentist will make an impression of your teeth. They’ll send this to a lab where they make the crown, which can take about 2-3 weeks.

Once ready, you’ll have your second appointment where your dentist can permanently cement your new crown in place.

How to Prevent a Broken Tooth

Avoiding a broken tooth is easier than repairing it. Although accidents happen, paying attention to these ways to prevent breaking teeth can save you an emergency trip to the dentist:

  • Don’t chew on hard objects: Things like unpopped popcorn kernels and ice put a lot of pressure on your teeth, which can sometimes lead to a broken tooth. 
  • Avoid bad habits: Bad habits like chewing on pencils or pens can also be harmful.
  • Wear a mouthguard: If you play a sport that puts your teeth at risk, make sure you wear a mouth guard or a protective mask. Boxing, football, and rollerblading are some of the most common sports that can result in dental injury.
  • Don’t grind or clench your teeth: If this is something you do when you sleep, talk to your dentist about getting a retainer or mouthguard to protect your teeth.

Save Money on Fixing Your Broken Tooth

Unfortunately, a broken tooth is not something that heals by itself. You need to visit a dentist to avoid pain or cutting yourself. Only a professional can restore your smile.

Even in a dental emergency, a lot of people avoid the dentist purely because of the cost. You don’t have to choose between your smile and your wallet if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

With Carefree Dental, you can unlock huge savings on dental procedures at participating dentists. You can save between 15%-50%* per visit in most instances, and repair your tooth without worrying about the dental bill.

Sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today, and restore your smile after injury.


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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