Dental Guide to Repairing Chipped, Missing, and Broken Teeth

Had an accident and cracked your tooth? Don't worry, there are plenty of solutions

Our teeth are strong but can still suffer from injury

Enamel is one of the components of our teeth. This hard shell forms the external layer of teeth and is regarded as the toughest tissue of the human body. The crown of a tooth is the perceptible area outside of the gums and is also covered by enamel.

Despite its strength, daily life events like accidents or trauma can cause teeth to break or chip. Instances such as falling head first onto the ground or even biting into a walnut the wrong way can lead to a broken or chipped tooth. Here are some causes, symptoms and treatment solutions for broken, chipped and missing teeth.


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What increases your chances of getting a chipped or broken tooth?

It is only natural that weaker teeth are at a greater risk of chipping than healthy teeth. Some factors that can weaken teeth are as follows:

  1. Cavities and decay in a tooth can corrode its enamel, leading to weaker teeth. The same goes for large fillings and teeth grinding, both of which can leave your teeth more vulnerable.
  2. Excessive consumption of acid-rich foods such as fruit juices, coffee and spicy food tends to have a similar effect.
  3. Digestive conditions such as heartburn and acid reflux that bring up acid into your mouth can also damage enamel.
  4. Activities that can result in frequent vomiting, including alcohol use can also be detrimental for enamel.
  5. Risk of chipping teeth is also directly connected with age since the enamel on a tooth naturally wears down through time. Therefore, older people are more susceptible to this kind of dental harm.

What are the symptoms of a broken or chipped tooth?

It is not necessary that a broken tooth will display symptoms. A broken tooth but no pain is also a reality however, some usual signs are:

  • Painful chewing or biting
  • High sensitivity to hot or cold items
  • Inconstant aching of the affected tooth, such that the pain comes and goes
  • Swollen gums surrounding the affected tooth

What is the difference between a chipped and a broken tooth?

Chipped Tooth

A chipped front tooth does not always come with a toothache. However, a big enough chip that exposes the internal portion which includes the nerves of a tooth can result in severe pain. A fresh chip commonly targets the end of a tooth and increases from there gradually.

The technique used to achieve a fixed chipped tooth largely depends on the size of the chip. A small chip might get fixed by casual smoothening and polishing, however, a significant chip may require fillings, dental crowns or caps to go back to normal. On the other hand, a root canal may be the only viable solution to a large enough chip.

Broken Tooth

Unlike a chipped front tooth, a broken front tooth begins near the gums and impacts a tooth’s enamel. Even if it is a broken tooth but no pain situation, a broken front tooth can prove harmful for even the root. Usually, the pain is harsher in a broken tooth. It is also more evident while chewing, and especially chewing on hot or cold things due to increased sensitivity.

With cracked teeth, a small enough crack may not even require any fixing. Tooth bonding is a technique which helps with minute cracks. Through this procedure, a resin is placed inside the crack which holds the tooth together. In case tooth bonding proves ineffective, a tooth splint is used through which the affected tooth is bonded by a neighboring tooth.

The last resort is a root canal, which is used to treat a broken tooth with damaged tooth pulp. A crown or cap is then placed atop the tooth.

How to initially care for a broken or chipped tooth at home?

When you break or chip a tooth, first ensure that you gently remove any pieces of the broken tooth from your mouth. This is to help you avoid swallowing it. You should make a call to a dentist and ask them if an emergency appointment can be made.

The sharp edges of a chipped tooth can cut into the soft areas of your mouth including your inner cheeks and tongue. Over-the-counter medication may help against the discomfort that accompanies tooth damage. You could also try clove oil which may have a soothing effect. Talking to a pharmacist may be of help in this regard. Another thing to try is to use fluffy gauze to temporarily cover the tooth, after consulting with your dentist of course.

What are some of the treatment options for chipped or broken teeth?

The appropriate treatment option for you depends on the size of the crack, its location, your symptoms and how much the crack extends. Keeping in mind these factors, one of the following options may be implemented by your dentist:

Bonding A plastic resin is used in this technique which is placed inside the crack and restores the tooth’s appearance and function. This is one of the easiest methods of attaining a fixed chipped tooth.

Crown If you are looking for treatment options on how to fix a chipped tooth, a dental crown will also help. A dental crown is usually made of porcelain or ceramic. It is a prosthetic device which is placed over the affected tooth and caps it.

When fitting a crown, a dentist may first scrape off some enamel from the tooth to make space. An impression of the tooth is then made and a color that resembles your teeth is picked out. The impression is then transported to a dental laboratory where the crown is created.

This procedure to fix a broken tooth tends to be lengthy, and may even take a few weeks. When the finished crown arrives, the dentist attaches it to the cracked tooth.

However, technological advancements have enabled dentists to fix a broken tooth by milling a dental crown right at the time of the visit. This way the crown can be fixed on the same day. Same day crowns are made using a technology called CEREC and the cost may vary.

Root canal In the case that a crack extends into the affected tooth’s pulp, a root canal may be the only option. This process is supposed to clear the damaged pulp and fix the tooth. A root canal also prevents further weakening or infection of the tooth.

Extraction Sometimes extraction might be the only option to treat a broken tooth. In cases of drastic, irreversible damage to the nerves and structure of a chipped tooth, removal of the tooth may become your only way out.

What are some of the treatment options for missing teeth?

Missing teeth have great influence over your appearance because of how apparent they are. Apart from causing insecurities about the way one looks, missing teeth can also result in problems related to dental health in people. In most extreme cases, there is no option left than to replace missing teeth.

Firstly, the gap that missing teeth open may cause other teeth to turn crooked and develop in an erratic manner. This in turn makes cleaning the crooked difficult, increasing the risk of cavities and tooth decay. Also, the jaw bone decreases in density with missing teeth. In the long term, this can lead to a droopy jaw which may make you appear older.

However, there are several tooth replacement options for this issue, some of them being:

Dental Implants Dental implants are supposed to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are considered as the best course of action when it comes to missing teeth. Dental implants have three determining aspects:

  • The ‘implant’ which is made of various materials, including titanium or zirconium
  • A metal ‘abutment’, usually made of zirconium or porcelain which acts as a foundation to the crown, and is attached to the implant
  • The ‘crown’ which is the part above the gum. It resembles a tooth and is made of porcelain or metal.

Dentures Dentures are artificial wearable teeth that are one of the most effective tooth replacement options. The two types of dentures available are permanent ones or removable ones. Both of them are either incomplete or partial forms. Removable dentures are fixed into a patient’s mouth and can be removed and cleansed.

Complete dentures are basically fake teeth for toothless patients. These dentures can either be permanent or temporary. On the other hand, partial dentures are used to fill gaps, and can be placed beside natural teeth.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do impacted teeth completely heal after treatment?

Proper treatment for chipped tooth usually checks future cracks and provides long-term relief. Treatment also helps restore function.

However while the dentist focuses on how to fix a chipped tooth, in some cases, cracks continue to aggravate even after treatment. The cracks may keep widening and eventually lead to the tooth’s loss. Every case is different.

What can you do to stop your teeth from cracking in the future?

These are some of the things you could do to decrease the chances of teeth cracks:

  • Avoid chewing on sturdy objects such as pens, large pieces of ice and walnuts
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid clenching your teeth
  • In case you grind or clench your teeth while sleeping, seek for your dentist’s advice regarding the purchase of a retainer or mouth guard
  • Put on a protective mouth guard or grill while playing contact sports.
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