How do teeth break?

Has your tooth broken and you can’t figure out why? 

Our teeth are really strong, but with the many stresses and strains that they have to endure, they can crack, chip and break. 

Common causes of these breaks can include:

  • Facial trauma following an accident
  • Eating something hard
  • Damage from sports
  • Untreated cavities can cause a tooth to become brittle and break
  • Old, large amalgam fillings, where the remaining structure of the natural tooth can become brittle over a period of time

Sudden pain may not be present when you first break your teeth. Discomfort when chewing or sensitivity to cold and hot may be experienced when the break has travelled to the nerve. Whether or not you are in consistent pain, you should visit your dentist as soon as possible in order to check the satiability and health of the tooth. Your dentist will also provide necessary treatment to prevent further deterioration or problems.

My tooth broke, What should I do? 

Please follow these steps immediately if you’ve chipped or broken a tooth.

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water
  • Apply pressure on any bleeding areas using gauze or a wet tea bag
  • Apply an ice pack to your cheek if there’s any swelling
  • If it’s painful, use an over the counter pain reliever such as Paracetamol (unless your GP has advised otherwise)
  • Cover any broken teeth with milk, saliva or saline solution

If your tooth is broken, make sure you don’t brush it, and make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. 

Can my broken tooth be saved?

Teeth with minor chips don’t usually cause any pain but your dentist may suggest a repair by smoothing the edges and inserting a tooth coloured filling or a cosmetive bond. This will prevent any rough edges from cutting your lips or tongue. Seriously broken teeth may require a more complex treatment. Cracks and breaks can expose your nerve endings, causing infections which expose gum line, pulp (root canal, connective tissues). In these cases they are extremely painful. 

Root canal treatment isn’t always necessary for cracked and chipped teeth. Where there’s no pain or infection, cracks can be filled and bound together with a specialised tooth cement, while a broken tooth will be fixed with a crown. Crowns are also used as part of the treatment for other types of splits and breaks, such as broken cusps, split roots or vertical breaks, split molars, and as a precaution against further cracks. If your tooth has decayed from the inside-out your dentist may recommend that the tooth is removed.

Perhaps the cracked or broken tooth may not be noticeable, but just because it’s not causing any trouble doesn’t mean you should ignore it. No matter how minor you think it may be, it’s part of a good oral health routine to have any abnormalities checked over by your dentist. Infections can arise quickly, so you want to make sure that you get the correct treatment as soon as possible. 

Maintain your beautiful smile by having regular check ups with your dentist and good oral hygiene, and control your consumption of acidic, hard foods and drinks. These will all reduce your risks and stop fractures and cracks from developing into problems which may cause you to lose teeth in the future. 

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