Chipping, cracking, or breaking a tooth can be painful. Damage from chipping a tooth can be minor or extensive, depending on your dental health and the type of injury.
Unless the damage is a slight chip, there is no permanent way to fix it without visiting a dentist. The best thing you can do before visiting a professional is to address the pain and protect your teeth and mouth to avoid additional injury.
Dentists do not advise home treatment to fix a broken tooth. However, there are some practices you can make to protect your teeth and mouth.
Before visiting the dentist, you can practice several home remedies for pain relief from chipping a tooth.
Over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen can help reduce pain, but never take more than the recommended dosage. You can also use clove oil on the injured area to help lessen the pain. Clove oil contains eugenol, a numbing ingredient with anti-inflammatory features.
If your tooth has a tiny chip and a jagged edge, you can set dental wax over the edge. Dental wax prevents any sharpness from slicing your tongue or damaging your mouth. Many drugstores sell over-the-counter temporary fix kits with dental wax.
However, this home remedy is not recommended if you have a big chip or a section of a tooth is missing. If you use dental wax, avoid chewing on the side with the damaged tooth. Try flossing around the tooth to reduce irritation and pressure.
There are different types of temporary tooth repair kits available in drugstores and online. While these kits should not replace professional oral care and treatment, they can be helpful while waiting to visit a dentist.
These tooth replacement kits are temporary and do not address the more significant issues that could lead to infection, tooth loss, or other oral health complications. Some kits include dental wax, while others provide material that can mold into the shape of a tooth to fill any gaps on chipped or broken teeth.
You will likely need to visit a dentist for any breakage but the smallest cracks or chips. This is because it is challenging to see how severe the damage might be. If you are unsure, make an appointment immediately to prevent a chipped tooth from becoming a dental emergency.
There are no effective DIY home remedies to prevent more injury to your teeth and mouth, and the jagged and sharp edges of a cracked tooth could slice your soft tissues. This would cause more pain, infection, and potentially more expensive treatment. In some circumstances, untreated tooth damage could lead to a root canal, tooth loss, or other problems and complications due to infection.
The most common teeth to damage are the molars in the lower jaw. This is likely due to their pointy cusps that grind into the molars' grooves at the top of the mouth.
However, any tooth can chip or break with injuries that range from minor cosmetic damage to severe injuries. Deep cracks lead down to the root or from the tooth’s center to the pulp chamber. In the pulp chamber, there are nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
Sometimes, cracks are not visible because they hide inside the tooth or below the gum. Some cracks and chips on teeth have no symptoms or symptoms that appear to be cavities, sensitivity, or periodontal disease.
Generally, the deeper and broader the damage, the more comprehensive the treatment required. A dentist can determine the extent of the damage by assessing the tooth with or without a magnifying test, performing a bite test, and using dental X-rays.
The type of professional treatment you will receive for a chipped tooth depends on how significant the crack or chip is and where it is.
If the damage is minor, a dentist may polish the surface to smooth a broken or sharp edge on a tooth. This treatment is called cosmetic contouring.
A dentist may use dental bonding to fill in gaps and spaces on a chipped tooth. During bonding, dentists lightly abrade the tooth, apply a conditioning liquid, and then use a tooth-colored composite resin. Then, they form it into the correct shape.
Besides cosmetic contouring and dental bonding, the dentist may also reattach a broken part of the tooth. These procedures can typically be made in a single visit.
A crack or chip may require more extensive broken tooth repair if it goes deeper than the surface. Sometimes, the damage reaches the pulp, which may require a root canal treatment.
The treatment is far less painful than it used to be. Typically, it is no more painful than receiving a dental filling.
Molars have more than one root. If just one is damaged or fractured, a root amputation may be necessary to save the rest of the tooth. This procedure is called a hemisection. A root canal and dental crown must be done on the remaining tooth.
Sometimes a root canal is not enough to save a chipped or cracked tooth, and extraction is necessary. The deeper the crack, the more likely tooth extraction is required.
Not every chip or crack is severe enough to require treatment. Some cracks and chips are quite common. For example, craze lines are common. These are small cracks that develop in the tooth enamel only.
Chipped, broken or cracked tooth, United Kingdom National Health Service (NHS), April 2018, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/chipped-broken-or-cracked-tooth/
Abulhamael, Ayman M et al. “Treatment Decision-making of Cracked Teeth: Survey of American Endodontists.” The journal of contemporary dental practice vol. 20,5 543-547. 1 May. 2019, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31316014/
Arabolu, Manikya et al. “Using an existing crown to repair a damaged cast post and core restoration.” Journal of international oral health : JIOH vol. 6,5 (2014): 111-3, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4229817/
Hilton, Thomas J et al. “Recommended treatment of cracked teeth: Results from the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.” The Journal of prosthetic dentistry vol. 123,1 (2020): 71-78, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7172112/
Larson, Thomas D. “Enamel craze lines.” Northwest dentistry vol. 93,4 (2014): 31-4, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25233570/
Mamoun, John S, and Donato Napoletano. “Cracked tooth diagnosis and treatment: An alternative paradigm.” European journal of dentistry vol. 9,2 (2015): 293-303, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26038667/