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What to Do When You Break a Tooth

Oh no! Whether it was broken during a fall, in an accident or from biting down on something hard, a broken tooth is considered a dental emergency.

Woman having toothache - Dentist in West Chester PA

If you just broke a tooth, you need to act fast in order to have the best outcome. Below, you will find our expert advice on what to do until you get to the dentist. It’s also important to know what the most common causes of broken teeth are and how they can be fixed.

Main Causes of Broken Teeth

Unfortunately breaking a tooth is not an entirely uncommon occurrence. Here at Briglia Dental, we care for patients of all ages with this type of dental emergency. The main causes of chipped, cracked and broken teeth include:

  • Sports injuries,
  • Accidentally biting on something hard,
  • Chewing on ice or hard candy,
  • Falling,
  • Stress on a tooth from cavity decay or an old filling,
  • Using your teeth as tools,
  • Teeth grinding.

How to Handle a Broken Tooth

Protect the Tooth

If all or part of the tooth has fallen out, place it in a cup of milk. This is a good way to preserve the tooth temporarily.

If the broken tooth is still in place, protect it using temporary dental cement. This can be found at your local pharmacy. The cement will help keep the exposed tooth clean and prevent further damage until you can get to the dentist.

Care for Your Mouth

Rinse your mouth with a clean salt water solution at room temperature. If the gums or surrounding tissues are bleeding, apply pressure with damp gauze until it stops. In the case of an accident, fall or blow to the mouth, apply a cold pack to the cheek or lips affected to help keep swelling and discomfort to a minimum.

Treat Any Pain Caused by a Broken Tooth

Not everyone experiences pain when the break a tooth. Minor fractures often don’t hurt and you may only feel the problem with your tongue. A telltale sign of a larger chip, crack or break, however, is pain when you release your jaw after biting. Discomfort may be an indication that the nerve has been exposed. If this is the case, the tooth will likely be more sensitive when touched with food, drinks and air that is hot or cold.

Discomfort caused by a cracked tooth may come and go. If you experience discomfort, take a non-prescription pain reliever, like Advil or Tylenol.

Visit the Dentist

It’s best to get to the dentist right away if you have a broken tooth. During regular office hours, you should call the office and let them know that you have a dental emergency. Your dentist will help find a time to access the problem and begin treatment or repair as soon as possible.

If a permanent tooth has been knocked out, for example, having it replaced within 30 minutes ensures the best chances of survival for the tooth.

Dental Treatment for a Broken Tooth

Your dentist will need to assess the damage to the tooth. This is the first step in the tooth repair process. Depending on the type and extent of the fracture, break or chip, your dentist will determine the best treatment plan.

Filling or Bonding

For smaller problems, the dentist will often fix the broken tooth with a filling. This will protect and restore the strength of the tooth.

For areas of your mouth that are visible when you smile, it may be preferable to bond the tooth. The dentist uses a special resin that adheres to the broken tooth. It is shaped and matched to the color of your other teeth. An ultraviolet light is used to set the resin and harden it. The end result is a repaired tooth that looks natural and healthy.


For larger repairs or for teeth that have been weakened by cavities, a porcelain crown may be the preferred solution. After it has been treated, a crown can be used to cover the broken tooth. The crown protects the tooth and makes it functional again. Porcelain crowns can be made to look just like the original tooth and have a great aesthetic result.


When there are cosmetic concerns, the best solution is a porcelain veneer. Especially if the front tooth was broken, a veneer can repair the tooth while ensuring that your smile looks great. Veneers are thin pieces of porcelain that are shaped and colored to match your other teeth perfectly. They can be fixed to the front of the broken tooth once it has been properly treated.

Have a Dental Emergency?

If you have a dental emergency, call the Briglia Dental Group as soon as possible. You can reach our office at (610) 615 0160.

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Dr. Ron Briglia at Briglia Dental Group

Dr. Ron Briglia has been practicing dentistry since 1984. With decades of experience and extensive continuing education, Dr. Briglia provides the most comprehensive dental services.

He earned his Bachelor of Science from Gannon University and his Doctor of Dental Medicine from Temple University Dental School. He has received advanced training at prestigious organizations like Pankey and Las Vegas Institutes. He is IV and oral sedation-certified too.

Most of Dr. Briglia’s patients have continued with him in his family of patients for over 30 – 35 years, and the restorations he has provided them have lasted for 25-35 years – clear evidence of his skills and expertise.

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