Dealing With a Fractured or Broken Tooth

Broken teeth causes, types and temporary remedies


Your teeth may fracture or break for a number of reasons, including:

  • Accident or injury
  • Tooth decay
  • Chewing on hard foods (such as ice or candy)
  • Grinding your teeth
  • Loss of stability due to large fillings or wear

An injured tooth may or may not hurt, depending on nerve exposure. Pain or not, here’s how to take care of your broken tooth until you can see a dentist.

Did You Know?

17% of U.S. adults age 18-64 report having broken or missing teeth?

- Oral Health Status and Access to Oral Health Care for U.S. Adults: National Health Interview Survey, 2008


How to care for a broken tooth:

  1. Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area surrounding the affected tooth.
  2. Apply a cold compress to reduce swelling.
  3. Contact your dentist immediately.

3 Common Tooth Fractures

  1. Small fractures: Involve the enamel (the hard outer shell of the tooth) only and may not be visible to the human eye—usually a cosmetic issue.
  2. Medium fractures: Extend through the enamel and stop at the dentin (the softer tooth layer underneath the enamel). Can result in tooth sensitivity.
  3. Large fractures: Extend through all three layers of the tooth to the pulp (tooth nerve). Noticeable pain and bleeding may occur.


Get more expert oral health advice:

How to temporarily fix a lost crown or filling

What to do if you’ve lost a tooth

How to ease the pain of a toothache


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