What to Do If You Have a Broken Tooth

What to Do If You Have a Broken Tooth

Your tooth may crack, chip, or break for a lot more reasons than you realize. It’s not just falls, car accidents, and hits to the face or mouth that can harm your teeth. Biting down on something hard, severe cavities that go untreated, and old fillings that no longer work properly may be the culprit, too.

Broken teeth, no matter how minor, require a trip to the dentist at some point. If it’s a severe break on a weekend, at night, or during the holidays, you’ll need an emergency dentist. Most broken teeth aren’t something you want to endure for any longer than necessary.

From the initial break until you’re in the dentist’s chair, here’s what you need to know and do.

What You Need to Know

What You Need to KnowA broken tooth can be a split, crack, chip, or break, and you can’t treat a broken tooth at home. You can only endure it.  Not everyone experiences the same level of pain when they break a tooth. Most minor breaks don’t cause a lot of pain. The pain you feel, no matter what happens, can be constant or it may come and go over time. If you’re feeling constant or excruciating pain, that’s a sign that the nerve or blood vessels in your tooth has been damaged.

Call your dentist or emergency dentist as soon as you can once the break occurs. The sooner you can get in to see them, the better for your tooth. Your dentist will be able to determine if the nerve is in danger of further or permanent damage. The only fix will likely be a root canal. They can also check to see if a break was caused, in part, by cavities which will need to be dealt with, too.

What to Do While You Wait to See the Dentist

What to Do While You Wait to See the DentistYour tooth has cracked, chipped, or broken, and you’ve called your dentist. Now what? Until you can get in for your appointment, here are a few things you can do to help yourself:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water.
  • If the break causes you to bleed, apply pressure with gauze until the bleeding stops or for about 10 minutes.
  • Use an ice or cold pack on your cheeks or lips over the tooth. This will help minimize the swelling and reduce your pain.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication if you need it.
  • If the edge of the break creates sharp or jagged edges, use dental cement (available at drugstores) to cover your tooth until you see the dentist.

How Your Dentist Will Fix Your Broken Tooth

 How Your Dentist Will Fix Your Broken ToothWhat procedure is necessary for your broken tooth depends on what caused the break and what kind of damage occurred.

  • Nerve damage in the tooth typically requires a root canal.
  • Any cavities that caused the break will need to be filled.
  • You may receive a crown or inlay over the break to protect the tooth and help create a better shape if a broken tooth can be saved.
  • A tooth that has been split at the root or broken due to severe tooth decay will likely need to be removed.
  • Chipped teeth can often be corrected with filling or bonding. Bonding is used on front teeth to keep your smile as natural as possible.
  • Dental veneers are also used on front teeth for chips or breaks. They’re placed over the front of your tooth for the most natural appearance.

Your dentist will look at your specific break, your medical history, and your current dental health to determine the best treatment option for you.


A broken tooth can cause severe pain, change your smile, and prevent you from eating certain foods. It’s not something to be ignored, especially if you experience pain at any point, as it can create other problems in the future. While accidents can’t be avoided, taking care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing and regular trips to the dentist can prevent breakage from tooth decay and cavities. When you break a tooth and need to be seen, make sure you have an emergency dentist you trust.