Broken or Chipped Tooth? – What You Need To Know

What you need to know about chipped teeth

People who have had chipped teeth know just how painful it can be. Whether it’s a tiny chip or a large one, chipped teeth can be painful and uncomfortable. The American Dental Association estimates about 80% of Americans have had at least one chipped or cracked tooth. When you have a chipped tooth, you may not be able to eat or drink normally, and you may even feel embarrassed about how your smile looks. Whether the damage is severe or not, there are ways to fix a chipped tooth to restore your beautiful smile.

Causes of a chipped tooth

There are many causes of a chipped tooth. The most common cause is trauma to the face, which can be from sports or accidents. Another reason is grinding your teeth, leading to chipping or even breaking the enamel on your teeth. Some other causes include:

  • Biting down on food that is too hard, like an ice cube or hard candy
  • Uneven bite putting added pressure on certain areas of your teeth
  • Amalgam fillings place stress on the enamel
  • Poor dental hygiene can lead to chipped teeth because it makes your teeth more susceptible to decay and other types of damage.
  • Gum disease, otherwise called periodontal disease may cause inflammation around the root of your tooth, making it vulnerable to cracking if something hits it hard enough.

Assess why your tooth is chipping

You might be thinking, “why does it matter?” But the truth is that it matters a lot! Because there are multiple reasons why a tooth can chip, we need to take a closer to find the root cause. If you know what caused the chip, you’ll be able to prevent it from happening in the future.

If it’s due to trauma to the tooth, there would be no problem of just fixing it, and it’s just bad luck. If it’s because of a lifestyle choice that causes dental decay, then there may be an underlying reason for the problem. For example, if you have been drinking sugary drinks for years, it could have eroded your enamel causing your tooth to chip off in small pieces until it becomes too weak to hold itself together anymore (and then breaks).

In this case, even though fixing the tooth is possible—and might even look great when done—there would still be an underlying reason why your teeth became weak in the first place: You were drinking sugary drinks every day! Without the proper change, you may temporarily fix the problem until you start having other dental issues like cavities, gum disease, or other dental concerns.

How Is a Chipped Tooth Treated?

During your examination, your dentist will see how severe the damage is to the tooth. Depending on the exam, your dentist will provide the proper treatment.

Small-sized chip – The first step in treating a chipped tooth is determining how much damage has been done to the tooth. If the damage is a small chip with rough edges, the tooth can be treated without extensive intervention. The tooth can be filed to match the others and reshaped accordingly. This procedure is relatively simple and does not require drugs or sedation. If a small chip on a tooth cannot be filed back into shape, the dentist will repair it with dental bonding material. The material is applied to the natural tooth and hardened with a curing light, then shaped to match the rest of your teeth.

Medium-Sized Chip – When the damage is too extensive for a bonding material to repair, your general dentist will clean the area and apply a cap such as a dental crown or veneer to protect the rest of the tooth from tooth decay and infection.

Large chip – Severe breaks or larger chips can damage the pulp inside your tooth, which contains nerves and connective tissue. If this damage is not repaired, your tooth will continue to decay and cause severe pain. In these situations where a tooth is severely damaged, your dentist may suggest one of three solutions: root canal therapy, a crown, or tooth extraction if the damaged tooth cannot be saved.

Types of chipped or broken teeth

Not all chips and cracks on teeth use the same dental procedure. A dentist will look for various features to determine an appropriate treatment for a tooth with damage.

Breaks caused by decay – When decay has compromised the integrity of a tooth, it may cause your tooth to crack. If the decay is severe enough, it may reach the bone, where your dentist may suggest a tooth extraction. In such cases, it is common to replace that tooth with a dental implant.

Vertical break – When a tooth crack begins at the root and extends upward is painful and will generally require an extraction.

Split tooth – If your tooth breaks vertically into two separate pieces, it is called a “split tooth break.” To find out if a tooth can be saved, your dentist will examine it to determine if preserving the root is possible. If so, a temporary crown will be attached following a root canal treatment. If not, extraction may be necessary.

Cusp break – The pointed chewing surface of the tooth is called the cusp. Sometimes, cusps can chip or break, which can lead to misalignment or sharp edges. In some cases, a crown can correct this problem.

Front tooth chips – When a chipped tooth is in the front of the mouth, a dentist may fill the damaged tooth with a tooth-colored composite resin material that matches the patient’s other teeth.

Is it necessary to repair a chipped tooth?


A chipped tooth is not necessarily a serious issue, but it can lead to more problems down the road if left untreated. To avoid further damage, you should get your tooth repaired as soon as possible. Even though it might seem like it’s not a big deal and that you’re not experiencing any pain, chipped teeth are weaker than intact ones, and they’re at high risk of experiencing more damage or even breaking.

If the chip in the tooth is significant where the tooth enamel is broken, the pulp (the living part of the tooth made of blood vessels and nerves) is vulnerable to the risk of infection.

What happens if I don't fix a broken tooth?

A chip in your tooth may feel like nothing more than a cosmetic problem, but it can have serious consequences that range from pain, infection, or tooth loss. The longer you wait to get it fixed, the more likely you are to experience one or more of these problems:

  • Pain from sensitive areas around the tooth
  • Infection from bacteria entering the crack in your tooth
  • Damage to surrounding teeth or gums by grinding against them when you chew food or clench your jaw due to irritation caused by sensitivity
  • Cuts in the mouth – A chipped tooth with a jagged edge can cause cuts in your mouth (cheek, tongue, or gums), making talking and eating uncomfortable.
  • Broken tooth – A tooth that is chipped may result in a broken tooth if the fracture weakens it. If the crack fractures the entire tooth, it will require more extensive restoration treatment than if it were strengthened by fixing the tooth.

Common Questions About Coffee Teeth Stains

Unlike porcelain veneers, where the dentist generally grinds down and attaches to your tooth, dental bonding is a safe, simple procedure that involves the use of resin composite to repair or enhance tooth structure. The composite material is also less susceptible to chipping and breaking than other cosmetic dentistry materials, such as veneers and crowns.

If you’re having tooth pain, contact your dentist immediately. To alleviate the pain, it’s best to use an over-the-counter pain reliever like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If you experience any discomfort, it will likely be intermittent or constant.

A fractured tooth may not heal or mend on their own, but they do not require any further treatment to restore structural integrity. Just be sure to visit the dentist to get the tooth repaired to prevent further damage.

Repair your chipped tooth with your Fairview dentist

Family Young Smile

Your teeth are resilient, but they’re not indestructible as they can still crack or chip if you chew hard objects. One way to fix cracks, chips, and gaps between your teeth is dental bonding. It’s a painless procedure that can be done in one appointment. If you think you need to brighten up your smile with this dental procedure, our team would love to help you with your tooth repair.

We’re here to answer all of your treatment option questions to find the right dental solution for healthy teeth. To schedule your appointment, contact Sloan Creek Dental, and our friendly staff will be happy to assist you. You can reach us at our Fairview, TX dental office to schedule an in-person consultation with us today – 972-468-1440

Our dental office is located in Fairview, Texas, and our patients visit us from across the surrounding areas, including Allen, Plano, McKinney, and Lucas.