What To Do if You Break, Chip, or Crack a Tooth

If you’re like 68% of Americans, you probably aren’t terribly concerned with the look of your teeth–that is until you chip, break, or lose a tooth. Each year, nearly 5 million people damage a tooth in an accident or because of periodontal disease or cavities. This can negatively affect the way your teeth look and feel, and can also affect your confidence. So, what should you do if a tooth suddenly falls out, breaks, or chips? Here’s some advice.

Stop the Bleeding

If you’ve broken a tooth in an accident, you should rinse your mouth with warm water to clean it and apply pressure to stop any bleeding. Use a cold compress to control the swelling. If possible, locate any tooth fragments that may have fallen out and wrap them in wet gauze to bring to your dentist.

If your tooth falls out, you should rinse it if it appears dirty, but don’t scrub it, use anything other than water, or remove any tissue from the tooth. If the tooth won’t go back in the socket, put it in a glass of milk, water, or saline solution to take to the dentist.

See an Emergency Dentist

If you are in pain, still bleeding, or missing a large portion of a tooth or the entire tooth, you will require immediate dental care. You will want to get to an emergency dentist within 30 minutes if possible. You may also need to see a dentist right away if you’ve damaged your front teeth. If you wait too long, dentists may not be able to save your tooth.

Pain Control

If you’ve chipped a very small portion of your tooth, you may be able to wait for regular business hours for dental care. Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply a cold compress to the area to help with swelling. You can also take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Apply dental wax to the chipped tooth to avoid cutting your tongue or mouth on the sharp edge. Be careful not to chew food on the side of your mouth with the chipped tooth, don’t brush too hard, and be careful not to snag the chip with dental floss. You will want to get dental care once your dentists’ office is open.

Is a Trip to the Dentist Necessary?

If you’ve broken a large portion of a tooth, lost a tooth entirely, or are in pain, you will definitely require dental care. Even a small chip or crack can look unattractive, cause you pain, or cause further damage down the road. Blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue can be damaged or cause discomfort from the slightest crack or chip. Untreated damage can also lead to tooth loss, root canals, or infections. Sometimes, nearly invisible cracks or chips can be mistaken for sensitivity, cavities, or periodontal disease. You should see a dentist even if you don’t think you need to. They can diagnose the problem with a bite test, magnifying glass, or x-rays.


If you have a minor chip or crack, you can use a temporary tooth repair kit until you can get dental care. These often have dental wax to smooth any jagged edges or even a type of putty that can go over your tooth to fill a small gap. Keep in mind that a kit is temporary and you will still need to see your dentist. A permanent treatment can only be administered by a dentist and can include, polishing, bonding, a root canal with crown treatment, or a tooth removal with an implant.

Chipping, cracking, or breaking a tooth can be painful, costly, and possibly even ruin your smile. Follow these steps if it happens to you, and don’t wait to seek treatment.

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