Broken, cracked, and chipped teeth can cause serious oral health problems. Sharp corners of broken teeth can cut soft tissues such as your tongue or cheek. They can also lead to nutritional defects, as broken teeth can make it hard to chew and swallow food. If left untreated, broken teeth can become a site of food impaction, which can lead to more decay and possible infection. Fortunately, broken teeth are fairly easy to repair.
What causes broken teeth?
Broken teeth have many different causes, including:
- Biting hard foods
- Tooth grinding (bruxism)
- Tooth decay (cavities)
- Abrupt changes in temperature
Types of fractures
Craze lines: These are hairline fractures that appear on the outer enamel of your teeth. They’re caused by regular wear and tear. You don’t need to repair craze lines, but they can be masked through cosmetic procedures.
Broken cusp: The top of your tooth is the cusp, and trauma, serious dental decay, and chronic tooth grinding (among other things) can cause a portion of the cusp to break off. Even if there’s no pain, you’ll need to see your dentist for a restoration.
Cracked tooth: This is a catch-all term for anything from craze lines to split teeth. Whether or not cracked teeth need to be treated depends on the severity of the cracking. Talk to your dentist.
Split tooth: When your tooth is cracked into two or more distinct segments, it’s a split tooth. You’ll almost always need root canal therapy or an extraction to treat a split tooth.
Vertical root fracture: These fractures begin at the root of your tooth and work their way up. They’re usually not visible from the surface, but they can lead to painful infections.
What happens if I don’t fix a broken tooth?
An untreated broken tooth can lead to serious health problems. Broken teeth are weaker, so cracks and fractures tend to get bigger over time. This can eventually lead to large pieces of your tooth breaking off, which can make chewing and eating difficult. Bacteria will also find a home in the cracks and crevices of your broken teeth, and that can lead to infection. The longer you wait, the more serious your oral health problems may become and you may end up losing that tooth permanently.
What are some treatment options for restoring a broken tooth?
Dental fillings: Your dentist may use dental fillings made of composite resin or metal amalgams to fill in the damaged portion of your teeth. This is typically used when there’s a cavity; cavities can promote breakage in teeth.
Dental crowns: When teeth are too damaged for fillings, a dental crown may be used. They’re usually made of porcelain or metal, and they cover the damaged tooth.
Porcelain veneers: To cover craze lines and other cosmetic tooth damage, your dentist may recommend porcelain veneers. They sit over the front of the tooth and conceal cracks and other cosmetic concerns.
Dental bonding: Using a composite resin, your dentist can fill chips and other cosmetic damage to your teeth. Dental bonding uses the same composite resin as some dental fillings.
Root canal surgery: When damage to your tooth is extensive, the pulp of your tooth can become injured. When this happens, root canal surgery may be required to save the tooth.
How much does it cost to fix a broken tooth?
The cost to repair a broken tooth varies depending on the extent of the damage and the type of restoration being done. Generally, composite resin restorations are the least expensive, while root canal treatments are the most expensive if a crown is required after the surgery. Talk to your dentist to learn how much it might cost to fix your tooth!