Fact Checked

Chipped Tooth Causes and Repair

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

September 02, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Greg Grillo, DDS

A chipped or broken tooth may be unpleasant and detrimental to your general dental health, compromising the roots of the teeth and their appearance. When eating or being exposed to hot or cold conditions, chipped or broken teeth can cause pain. Pain might sometimes arise spontaneously.

You may not experience symptoms in certain circumstances. On the other hand, a fracture or missing piece of tooth may be noticeable.

The extent of the fracture or chip determines the treatment for a chipped or cracked tooth. Dental professionals can quickly fix minor cracks or chips with bonding material or composite resin. Others may need more extensive care, such as a root canal treatment. 

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Unless the chip is significant enough to expose the nerves in the tooth's inner layer, you may not experience tooth pain if you have a broken tooth. Suppose a chipped tooth is badly damaged and exposes the nerves inside the tooth. In that case, you may experience greater tooth sensitivity and discomfort while biting or exposing the chipped tooth to extremely hot or cold food and beverages. 

A fractured cusp is a chip on one of the back teeth's sharp chewing surface. This chipped tooth is rarely uncomfortable, but a dentist should check it. To restore the contour of the tooth and prevent additional damage or decay, you may require a crown or a dental onlay.


A cracked tooth might harm the tooth enamel or affect the entire tooth down to the root. Pain from a fractured tooth may be felt just during chewing or when the temperature in your mouth changes as you consume something hot or cold. However, it is critical to consult a dental professional as soon as you see cracked teeth so that they may be checked and repaired if necessary.


Teeth can shatter due to a variety of factors.

A chipped tooth occurs if you have fallen on your face, absorbed a blow or knock to the face by playing contact sports, or used your teeth for ripping open some form of packaging (dental professionals will tell you not to do this, but many of us do it anyway), or bite down on anything rigid, such as hard candy.


A fractured tooth can be caused by an injury such as a hit to the head or a fall or sports injury to something less spectacular such as biting an ice cube or hard foods, a piece of hard candy, or other hard food.


See your dentist immediately if you have a chipped or cracked tooth as soon as possible. Otherwise, your remaining tooth might be susceptible to further damage and injury or infected, even leading to tooth loss.

In the interim, consider the following self-care strategies:

  • Take acetaminophen or another over-the-counter pain treatment if the tooth is sore. Use salt water to rinse your mouth.
  • If the break has created sharp or jagged edges, cover it with a piece of dental wax or other temporary dental filling material or sugar-free gum to prevent it from further damage hurting your tongue, the inside of your lip, or your cheek.
  • Eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the fractured tooth if you must eat.
  • Schedule an appointment with a dental professional ASAP. 

The severity of the damage determines the treatment for a chipped or cracked tooth. Suppose only a minor chip or piece of enamel is missing. In that case, the repair may typically be completed in a simple procedure during a single office visit. A significantly damaged or fractured tooth may necessitate a more time-consuming and costly surgery. There are several methods your dentist may use to restore a cracked or chipped tooth.


Depending on the degree of the chipped tooth, there are several options for initial care for treating a fractured tooth, ranging from basic bonding or porcelain cover and veneer to a cap, dental crown, or filling.

Your dentist may even prescribe a root canal, depending on the severity of the break.



Bonding frequently repairs broken or chipped teeth, exceptionally small or less complicated defects using a tooth-colored resin.

Bonding a chipped tooth entails molding a composite compound over the chipped area and the healthy area. First, the dentist roughens up the leftover enamel so the compound can properly attach, and then they attach the bond and shape it to create a very natural-looking cover over the chipped tooth. Bonding is also used to repair some craze lines.

Finally, blue light hardens the substance and solidifies the bonding. Bonding is commonly used for a large chip that can't be otherwise hidden.

Bonds can survive for up to 10 years if properly cared for.


Veneers or dental implants are usually required for more severe damage, chipping, and a tooth breaks.

Repairing a chipped or slightly damaged tooth for veneers involves placing porcelain coverings over a front tooth, giving in a natural look that is identical to your original teeth.

Veneers are an excellent alternative if you want to repair a broken tooth while also improving the overall appearance of your smile since your dentist may implant one veneer over only the fractured tooth or many at a time to create a unified look.

Veneers are also available if you've previously chipped or damaged a bonded tooth. They may last anywhere from ten to twenty years with proper care and regular exams.


Dental caps and crowns, like veneers, are porcelain coverings for your teeth.

Crowns, unlike veneers, cover the complete tooth rather than just the front tooth or visible section of the tooth.

Dental crowns are generally regarded as the best approach for restoring a damaged tooth when the break or crack has resulted in considerable loss of the original tooth.

Crowns may restore your smile rapidly while avoiding additional damage, tooth decay, and nerve discomfort on the chewing surface.

Crowns often require two trips to the dentist's office: the first to prepare the tooth and manufacture the crown mold, and the second to cement it.

Meanwhile, a temporary crown will most likely be fitted to safeguard your oral health.


Dental fillings are a typical method of repairing a cavity or fractured tooth, mainly if it is a chipped molar that is not as easily visible.

Metal fillings were once the most prevalent option. Still, newer options, like porcelain, more closely approximate the look and feel of your actual teeth.


If the bulk of your tooth has been broken off, but the roof is still intact, your dentist may advise you to have a root canal.

Root canals sometimes involve inserting a post into the tooth canal to strengthen it sufficiently for a temporary crown to be placed. Then a permanent crown will be cemented over the base to fix your smile.


The cost to fix cracked teeth can range from several hundred dollars for a filling to close to $1,200 or more for a crown or root canal, depending on the type of treatment and insurance. 

If you are concerned about the expense, call your dentist and inquire about a pricing range, as each dentist and case is unique.

If cost is a significant factor, you can have the tooth removed for now and replace it with a permanent one later.


It seems to reason that weakened teeth are far more prone to chipping than other teeth that are healthier. Some factors that diminish tooth strength include:

  • Cavities and tooth decay erode enamel. Larger fillings can potentially weaken teeth.
  • Grinding your teeth can cause enamel wear.
  • Acid-producing meals, such as coffee, fruit juices, and spicy foods, can wear away enamel and expose the tooth surface.
  • Acid reflux and heartburn are digestive diseases that can cause stomach acid to enter your mouth and harm tooth enamel.
  • Eating problems or alcohol consumption might result in frequent vomiting, creating enamel destroying acid.
  • Sugar causes germs to grow in your mouth, and these bacteria can damage your enamel.

Tooth enamel deteriorates with time, so if you're 50 or older, you're more likely to have weaker enamel. The American Dental Association found that nearly two-thirds of individuals with broken teeth were over 50.


Any weaker tooth is vulnerable. However, studies show the second lower molar, presumably because it requires a lot of compressions when chewing, and teeth with previous fillings are the most likely to chip. Having said that, even healthy teeth can be chipped.


Simple precautions may be taken to avoid a chipped or broken tooth. Among these include, but are not limited to:

  • Use a protective mouth guard when engaging in sports or leisure activities.
  • Instead of using your teeth to cut things, use scissors.
  • Ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy are known to induce cracks or chips when chewed.
  • See your dentist regulary.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can a chipped tooth heal?

While the pain and sensitivity may fade, chipped teeth do not mend on their own and must be treated by a dental specialist.

What should I do if I have a chipped tooth?

See your dentist if your tooth is damaged, chipped, or cracked as soon as possible. Otherwise, your tooth might become more injured or infected, even leading to tooth loss.

Is a chipped tooth a severe problem?

Because a severely chipped tooth frequently exposes the inner structure of the tooth, it is more sensitive to cavities and infections. You risk damaging the tooth's nerve or causing an abscess, which is exceedingly detrimental to your health.

What is the cost of repairing a chipped tooth?

Bonding a tooth can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000, depending on how much treatment is needed on the tooth. A filling can range in price from $90 to $500.


A chipped or broken tooth is a common dental problem. In many cases, it doesn't produce much pain and can be treated with various dental procedures.

While it's usually not a dental emergency, the sooner you get to a dentist and have it looked at, the better the chances of limiting any further dental problems. Most chipped tooth repair procedures heal fast once the procedure is complete.