Help! I cracked my tooth!

Middle-aged woman experiencing tooth pain
It can be scary to suddenly chip or crack your tooth. But if you act quickly, and call us immediately, we may be able to save your tooth!

If you’ve cracked or chipped a tooth, call our office immediately at 850-492-7647. We keep openings for emergency dental appointments.

Most people will chip a tooth at some point in their lives. Even a minor change in the shape of your teeth is typically noticeable right away because you can feel it with your tongue. As uncomfortable as that feeling is, it’s fortunate that you noticed the break! There are a variety of reasons why someone can find themselves with a fracture, including:

  • Contact sports
  • A bad fall
  • Tooth decay leading to thin enamel
  • Chewing food that is too hard (such as ice, popcorn kernels, or seeds)

Thankfully, pain is most often not associated with a tooth cracking. It may go unnoticed until you feel it with your tongue, but if the crack does go deep enough, the dentin will be exposed. In this case, you may experience nerve pain and will want to make an dentist appointment immediately just for some relief! If this happens, we recommend only eating foods that are at a mild temperature and avoiding very hot or cold drinks until treatment as your nerves will be exposed and extremely sensitive.

A tooth that is cracked and one that is actually broken require different levels of treatment. So what’s the difference? A cracked/fractured tooth is not typically associated with a high pain level. Even if it just a very small fracture, it’s best not to do anything at home to try fix it. If your tooth is cracked, you will probably only feel pain when pressure is applied to the area or when you eat/drink something at an extreme temperature. A broken tooth is much more serious and needs to be treated as soon as possible. A root canal might be necessary if the nerve is damaged. The extent of the break’s effects can only be determined once we bring you in for an appointment.

If you are in severe pain and need some relief before your appointment, there are a few steps you can take, such as:

  • Take a pain reliever
  • Minimize swelling by pressing an ice pack over the area of pain
  • Swish with mild-temperature water, being careful that it is not too hot or cold
  • If there is bleeding, firmly press a piece of gauze on the area for about 10 minutes. This amount of time should be sufficient to stop most of the bleeding.

The type of treatment you receive will greatly vary, depending on the level of severity of the crack or break in your tooth. If the nerve is exposed, a root canal will be the only way to remove the damaged nerve and relieve the pain. In most cases after a root canal, a crown is placed to replace or repair the tooth, and it will then be able to function correctly again. If the tooth is only slightly chipped or cracked, we can usually just file it down. In some cases, a filling material can be used to repair the damage.

The most important thing to keep in mind if you find yourself with a crack, chip, or break is to immediately call us and schedule an appointment. It is difficult to tell at home what the origin of the damage is, unless it’s something like an accident or it happens while you’re eating. Even then, it could still be due to an underlying issue like decay or something else that is very serious and needs immediate attention. If you are not sure how long the break has been there, chances are high that the damage is growing more severe over time. If you have some areas of your teeth that you are not quite sure about or if you experienced a severe break and need immediate treatment, give our office a call as we would love to help you get on the road to recovery as quickly as possible!