What to Do for a Broken Tooth: Home Care & Dental Repair Options

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
October 5, 2016

A middle age man holding his jaw in pain after breaking a tooth

Updated Nov 2022

If you have a broken or chipped tooth, you are probably wondering what to do for a broken tooth. Hopefully, you’re only reading this to help prepare yourself in case the situation ever arises.

Broken, chipped, cracked, or a fully removed tooth - all not-so-great situations, but they can get much worse if not taken care of properly. In this article, we will take a look at what to do with a broken tooth, how to deal with chipped or lost teeth and the ways Spirit Dental's low-cost dental insurance can help.

What to do if you crack a tooth

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.

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.

A crack usually involves the whole tooth, so you should 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.

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

What to do about a broken tooth

Whether your broken tooth results from a cavity or external event, you will want to call a dentist immediately. In the meantime, these steps should be taken:

  • Rinse your mouth 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 experience a severe break, you should see a dentist within 24 hours. If you cannot make it to a dentist immediately, head to a local drugstore 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.

A broken tooth will be extremely sensitive, and you’ll want to see a dentist or endodontist immediately. 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 intact, you may need root canal surgery. The dentist will build enough of a structure to place a pin or post so that a crown can be placed later.

What to do about a tooth avulsion (completely removed)

Completely losing a tooth 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.

Tips to avoid breaking or chipping teeth

Now that you know what to do if a tooth breaks, you may wonder how to avoid these problems. A broken, chipped or cracked tooth can be caused by quite a laundry list of items. To help prevent any of these things from happening to you or your child, it’s important to take precautionary measures, including:

  • Don't bite down on hard candy or ice
  • Avoid opening items with your teeth
  • Wear protective mouth gear when taking part in physical activities
  • Eat a proper diet and take care of your teeth

Frequently asked questions about chipped and broken teeth

If you're wondering what to do when your tooth breaks or is chipped, we have answers for you. We've gathered some of the most common questions we get about chipped and broken teeth and answered them for you below. If you have further questions, please read our FAQ page for more information.

Does dental insurance cover broken teeth?

Yes, Spirit Dental can help you find dental insurance if you have a broken tooth. And we know you can't always wait for coverage, especially in an emergency dental situation, so we offer dental insurance with no waiting period. As soon as your application is approved, your coverage begins.

Can a dentist fix a chipped tooth?

Yes, various options are available, depending on the level of damage to your tooth, including bonding, filling, crowns and veneers.

How much does it cost to fix a chipped tooth?

You probably already assumed that the cost of fixing a chipped tooth will really depend on how much damage your tooth has incurred, and what treatment will be needed to repair it. You’re right. But, beyond that, costs can also vary widely from one dentist to another.

Generally, you might expect to pay the following prices for the different treatments that can fix chipped teeth:

  • Bonding a tooth might cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000, and the total cost might depend on how much work needs to be done on a tooth.
  • A filling might cost anywhere from $90 to $500.
  • A dental veneer might set you back $500 to $1,500.
  • A crown might cost as low as $250 or as high as $3,200, and the price might depend on the type of crown that you get and the location in the mouth where it’s placed.
  • A root canal might be priced anywhere from $500 to $1,000, and it might also depend on the extent of the damage and the location in the mouth where the tooth is located.

Your dentist can let you know which treatments would work to fix your chipped tooth, and he or she can also discuss pricing with you to help you make the best decision for your oral health and your wallet. Spirit Dental can help you find affordable dental insurance to make these services more affordable.

Trust Spirit Dental for all your dental insurance needs

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! Another important contact to have ready is Spirit Dental. We offer major services dental insurance so you can rest easy knowing we have you covered. Contact us today to find out more about how we can help. 

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