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Chipped or Broken Tooth or Dental Appliance

Topic Overview

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 the 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 together.

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 dying.

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.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer David Messenger, MD
Last Revised July 20, 2012

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