What to Do If You Think You've Chipped or Broken a Tooth

Here’s a quick way to ruin a vacation: Break one of your teeth.

While the physical lives of children are more likely to result in cracked teeth than most adults’ lifestyles, the reality is that anyone can chip or break a tooth. Teeth that have been weakened by cavities or old dental work are especially prone to chips and breaks, but no teeth are immune. Teeth can crack or break due to a wide variety of causes, including:

In some cases, people may crack a tooth without even realizing it. (This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to maintain regular dental checkups—your dentist can identify any damage to your teeth that has gone unnoticed in your daily life.) In others, it will be clear that a tooth is chipped or broken because of symptoms such as pain that flares up after you bite down, sensitivity to hot or cold liquids, or feeling the chip or break with your tongue. You may even feel part of the tooth fall into (or out of) your mouth when the chip or break occurs.

If you suspect for any reason that one of your teeth is chipped or broken, your first response should be to call your dentist right away. Clearly describe your symptoms so your dentist can determine how quickly you need to be seen. Seeing your dentist is important even if you aren’t experiencing pain, because chipped or otherwise damaged teeth are more susceptible to further damage or infection.

While you’re waiting for your appointment, take the following steps:

Once you see your dentist, they will be able to determine the appropriate course of treatment. Some cracks are minor enough that they’re merely a cosmetic concern, while others might require treatment such as a filling, root canal, veneers, or (in extreme cases) tooth removal. Bottom line? A quick call to the dentist and a little self-care will significantly reduce the trauma of damaging a tooth.

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