What to do When You Break a Tooth

The outside of your tooth has a protective coating of enamel, the hardest mineralized tissue in your body. Even with this hard, protective surface, your teeth can still sustain damage.

Several things can lead to a broken tooth, ranging from car or sports accidents to chewing a piece of ice or hard candy. In fact, you can even break a tooth because of existing dental issues, like tooth decay. 

However, no matter how your tooth breaks, it can still expose the delicate materials inside your tooth — like dentin and pulp. When this happens, it can cause pain, sensitivity, discoloration, infection, and even tooth loss without treatment.

At South Bay Prosthodontics, Dr. MariaElena Rodriguez and Dr. Michelle Ikoma specialize in cutting-edge restorative dental techniques. If you’ve damaged or broken a tooth, here’s what you should do to ensure the best outcome.

Call your dentist ASAP

When you break or chip a tooth, your first call should always be to your dentist. Based on the severity of your break, we might recommend emergency dental care to address your symptoms immediately. In most cases, you should see a prosthodontist within 24 hours of breaking a tooth.

Clean your mouth

If you break or chip your tooth, rinse your mouth with warm water or salt water to clean it. If you have bleeding, we recommend applying gentle pressure in the area or dressing your broken tooth in gauze or a wet tea bag. 

Collect the pieces

It may not seem important to save the broken pieces of your tooth, but you should. If the entire tooth came out, rinse it with water and either put it back in its socket or place it in a glass of milk, water, or saline solution. If you can’t get to the dentist within 30 minutes, you can also wrap the tooth in wet gauze or place it in a clean, dry container until your appointment.

Manage your pain

If you only damage your enamel, you probably won’t have much pain. But, when dentin or pulp gets exposed to air, it’s common to experience discomfort and pain. We recommend flushing your mouth with warm water and applying a cold compress to your face in the area where you broke your tooth. You can also try taking over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories as directed.

Protect your mouth

Having a chip or rough edge to your tooth can cause damage to other parts of your mouth, like your tongue. If the damage is small, you can try applying some dental wax to the surface. You also shouldn’t chew with your broken tooth because you could cause further damage.

Repair your broken tooth

It’s crucial not to ignore a broken tooth, even if the crack seems minimal. To protect your remaining tooth, Dr. Rodriguez and Dr. Ikoma might recommend a variety of restoration techniques, depending on the extent of the break and its location. 

Some of the most common dental repairs include:

For severe breaks, they might recommend replacing your entire tooth with a bridge or dental implant.

If you broke a tooth, contact our Torrance office by calling 310-626-1791 to schedule an appointment as soon as possible. You can also send the team a message here on our website.

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