A chip or break in a tooth may occur suddenly with an injury or
develop slowly over time because of wear and tear. A chip, crack, or break in
tooth enamel is less serious than one to a
deeper layer of your tooth. A chip may result from
grinding the teeth at night. A dentist can recommend a
course of treatment for you.
Breaks (fractures), defects, or
cracks that go deep into the tooth and involve most of
the top (crown) of permanent teeth must be checked by a dentist. Deep fractures
or cracks can lead to inflammation, infection, or death of the tooth. The
center of the tooth (pulp) must be protected within a few hours of the injury
to increase the chances of saving the tooth.
Root canal treatment or a restoration may be needed. A
restoration, such as a
crown, will cover the tooth and hold the tooth
Bleeding is serious when it occurs inside a permanent tooth after the
tooth has been broken. Prompt dental treatment can often prevent the tooth from
A sharp piece of tooth or dental appliance, such as an orthodontic
wire, may irritate your mouth and, if left in a mouth wound, can delay healing
and lead to infection or scarring. A broken dental appliance can interfere with
your ability to open and close your mouth or can be accidentally swallowed. A
dentist can smooth the rough edges of the tooth, replace pieces of the tooth,
or fix the broken dental appliance.
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.