What You Should Do When You Break a Tooth

Dental Health
By:Spirit Dental
October 5, 2016

Updated July 2021

Before we jump right in, we hope that you are not currently dealing with a broken tooth. Hopefully, you’re reading this to help prepare yourself in case the situation ever arises.

Broken, chipped, cracked, or fully removed - all not-so-great situations, but they can get much worse if not taken care of properly.

What Can You Do:

Chipped/Cracked Teeth:

A tooth with a minor crack or chip can wait for medical attention, but you will want to be cautious about eating foods that are tough to bite or chew. You’ll also want to be attentive to foods with extreme temperatures. Use over-the-counter pain meds as needed. 

Tip: Wearing a mouthguard is key anywhere you could be hit. It will help protect your teeth from injury or trauma. 

Broken Tooth:

Whether your broken tooth is the result of a cavity or external event, you’re going to want to call a dentist immediately. In the meantime, these steps should be taken:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water or saltwater.

  • Apply a cold compress to the cheek near the broken tooth.

  • Apply gauze to the broken tooth to help soak up the bleeding. If gauze isn’t readily available, a wet tea bag can be used as a substitute. Note, bleeding should subside after 10 minutes.

  • If you experienced a severe break, you need to see a dentist within 24 hours. If you aren’t able to make it to a dentist immediately, head to a local drug store for dental cement. It can be used as a quick fix until you seek medical attention.

  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with the discomfort.

Tooth Avulsion (completely removed):

This is a dental emergency and will need immediate attention. If the tooth was fully removed, make sure to handle the removed tooth by the crown. DO NOT grab the tooth by the root. A tooth that was completely knocked out could cause severe nerve damage. Don’t worry, replacing the tooth in the socket is possible, but treatment is most successful if done right away.

When To See A Dentist and What The Dentist Will Do:


Most chips don’t need immediate attention, but it is recommended that you give your dentist a call and make an appointment as soon as possible. If it’s just a small chip, the dentist may smooth and polish it out. If it needs more than that, the dentist may suggest a filling to help prevent the issues from getting worse.

Cracked Tooth:

A crack usually involves the whole tooth, so you will want to call and make an appointment as soon as possible. It can either be a small crack that might involve a filling as a fix, or if it is bad enough, it may require a crown or a root canal. The dentist will assess the situation and provide the best solution.

Broken Tooth:

A broken tooth will be extremely sensitive, and you’ll want to see a dentist or endodontist right away. The suggestion will most likely result in the dentist wanting to cover the tooth with a crown. These days, porcelain or resin crowns can look just as natural as a real tooth. If the tooth is completely broken, but the root is still in tacked, you may need root canal surgery. The dentist will build up enough of a structure to place a pin or post so that a crown can later be placed.

A broken, chipped, or cracked tooth can be caused by quite a laundry list of items. To help prevent any of the things from happening to you or your child, it’s important to take precautionary measures. Staying away from biting down on hard candy or ice, or attempting to open items with your teeth might be a good place to start. Oh, and healthy teeth will stay healthy if treated properly with a good diet and consistent care.

For the times that there is a tooth or mouth emergency, make sure you have your dentist’s number readily available. After all, we think they might even be speed-dial worthy! Check out this blog for a more in-depth explanation of how much repairs will cost.

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