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 centre 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.
Current as of: June 26, 2019
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
David Messenger, BSc, MD, FRCPC, FCCP - Emergency Medicine, Critical Care Medicine