Broken tooth – causes, treatment & help

A broken tooth is caused by external influences on the tooth substance, which breaks as a result. In many cases, a dentist can treat such tooth fractures by reconstructing the tooth. The treatment varies depending on the type of fracture.

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What’s a broken tooth?

A broken tooth is a fracture, chipping, splitting or a crack in a tooth (infracture). A bump, impact, bite on something hard, accident or deliberately induced pressure on the tooth by instruments during tooth removal are the triggers of the so-called tooth fracture.

Broken teeth occur in both milk teeth and permanent teeth. The affected person perceives the tooth fracture through pain or injuries in the oral cavity. Injuries are caused by the sharp edges of the broken tooth.

If a tooth fracture is suspected, it is necessary to consult a dentist. The dentist will decide whether to reconstruct the tooth or extract and replace it. Broken teeth are statistically more common in children and adolescents than in adults.


A broken tooth occurs when the external influence on the tooth substance is so high that it no longer resists and breaks. This is the case with external force. These are impacts or blows.

Accidents, such as a fall on the mouth, are also a cause. Children and adolescents are particularly affected because they are very active. Accidents that can result in a tooth fracture can also occur during sports or by bicycle or car.

Food can also cause a tooth fracture if it contains hard ingredients such as fruit stones, bones or nut shells. When extracting a tooth, the dentist may deliberately cause a tooth fracture so that he can extract the tooth better. Teeth that have already been treated break more easily than healthy teeth.

Since the natural dentin is harder than filling materials, teeth that are largely filled with filling materials due to caries break more easily. Root-treated teeth also tend to fracture because nerve branches and blood vessels have been removed from the tooth. In the long run, this leads to an undersupply of the tooth and thus to increased porosity.

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Diagnosis & History

The affected person usually notices the broken tooth immediately after the fracture has occurred. A noticeable and audible cracking often accompanies the moment of the fracture. The affected person also feels a painful pressure in the jaw and tooth area, which is triggered by the force of the violent impact.

Depending on how pronounced the tooth fracture is, no, slight or severe pain may occur. If only part of the enamel has broken off, the person affected first notices the new shape of the tooth. It can have sharp edges and lead to injuries in the oral cavity. In deeper fractures, the nerve channel of the tooth nerve is open. This leads to considerable pain due to irritation of the nerve.


A broken tooth is normally harmless. However, complications may occur. Probably the most frequent complication is the swallowing of the broken tooth or the broken tooth part. In this context, however, it should be noted that swallowing the broken tooth does not normally cause any discomfort. Only aspiration of the broken tooth can lead to serious complications.

During aspiration, the broken part of the tooth is inadvertently inhaled, i.e. it enters the trachea. The reflex is usually a cough stimulus. The aim of this coughing stimulus is to remove the swallowed part of the broken tooth from the trachea. If this is not successful, it is advisable to consult a doctor, as aspirating the tooth can have serious consequences, including pneumonia. However, this is extremely rare. A much more common complication is exposing the inside of the tooth.

This makes the tooth very vulnerable. The penetration of bacteria into the exposed interior of the tooth can cause tooth decay. In the worst case, it can lead to inflammation of the tooth root or the nerve. This can lead to the death of the nerve, which makes the preservation of the tooth unlikely. For this reason, it is useful and important to consult a dentist when breaking a tooth. Such complications can be detected or ruled out by an examination by the dentist.

When should you see a doctor?

The consultation of a dentist is generally recommended in the case of a broken tooth. An expert should check whether there are exposed tooth necks, open nerve endings or splinters that have slid into the gum pockets. The risk of inflammation increases if there is no control. Further problems may occur with the remaining tooth. It may no longer be adequately protected.

This makes him more susceptible to germs, viruses or bacteria in the mouth and throat of the affected person. This increases the risk of further dental diseases such as caries or periodontosis. The broken tooth may expose the root or nerve of the tooth. Both are painful for the patient and can lead to inflammation with pus formation beyond the affected tooth. The risk of the remaining tooth nerve dying increases.

This usually leads to the fact that the tooth can no longer be used for a tooth build-up later on. It must be completely removed in a surgical procedure. A broken tooth can cause the periodontium to lose its strength. Depending on the structure of the jaw bones and teeth, the surrounding teeth may become loose. A regression of the gums is given. This can lead to further tooth loss or sensitive teeth.

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Christina Cherry
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