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Home > Patients & Visitors > Health Library > Chipped or Broken Tooth or Dental Appliance
A chip or break in a tooth may occur suddenly with an injury or
develop slowly over time because of wear and tear. A chip, crack, or break in
tooth enamel is less serious than one to a
deeper layer of your tooth. A chip may result from
grinding the teeth at night. A dentist can recommend a
course of treatment for you.
Breaks (fractures), defects, or
cracks that go deep into the tooth and involve most of
the top (crown) of permanent teeth must be checked by a dentist. Deep fractures
or cracks can lead to inflammation, infection, or death of the tooth. The
center of the tooth (pulp) must be protected within a few hours of the injury
to increase the chances of saving the tooth.
Root canal treatment or a restoration may be needed. A
restoration, such as a
crown, will cover the tooth and hold the tooth
Bleeding is serious when it occurs inside a permanent tooth after the
tooth has been broken. Prompt dental treatment can often prevent the tooth from
A sharp piece of tooth or dental appliance, such as an orthodontic
wire, may irritate your mouth and, if left in a mouth wound, can delay healing
and lead to infection or scarring. A broken dental appliance can interfere with
your ability to open and close your mouth or can be accidentally swallowed. A
dentist can smooth the rough edges of the tooth, replace pieces of the tooth,
or fix the broken dental appliance.
July 20, 2012
William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & David Messenger, MD
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