What happens if you leave a broken tooth?

It might seem like a broken tooth isn’t that big of a deal, when compared to seemingly bigger problems like gum disease or tooth decay, but the reality is that leaving a broken tooth untreated is pretty much guaranteed to make the situation get worse over time. Maybe your broken tooth is in the back of your mouth, where no one can see it, and you feel like you can manage the pain, but this isn’t only about pain. The reality is that leaving a broken tooth untreated can lead to problems that are far more damaging than mere pain in the mouth, no matter how bad that pain may be. In most cases, the longer a broken tooth is allowed to remain unaddressed, the worse it gets, and the more extensive the treatment becomes.

A person’s tooth can break for a variety of reasons, and the recommended treatment for any broken tooth will consider the reason for the fracture as well as its location and its severity. Teeth can fracture because a person chronically grinds or clenches their teeth, probably while sleeping, or in a one-off situation like opening a bottle with their teeth. Biting down on hard foods, like popcorn kernels, or habitually biting or chewing hard objects can cause a broken tooth, and teeth that have a large amount of tooth decay are generally more prone to breakage because the enamel that protects them is compromised or depleted. For the same reason, teeth that have cavities that have not been filled are more prone to breakage as well. Falling or otherwise injuring the face in an accident can also cause a broken tooth and may cause other injuries to the face or other parts of the body. Of course, these injuries should also be treated appropriately.

If you have a cracked tooth and you don’t want to see a dentist, you should know that an untreated crack, break, or fracture in a tooth could cause the inside of the tooth to get infected. When infection reaches the inside of the tooth, a root canal treatment might be needed, or it might even be necessary to remove the broken tooth and replace it with a dental prosthetic. In rare cases, when infection enters the pulp inside a tooth, it can spread into the head and neck and lead to systemic conditions that could be life-threatening. While this is rare, the only way to treat a fractured tooth is with dental care, so why take the risk? The sooner you see a dentist, the more likely they’ll be able to prevent further damage and potentially save the tooth while also sparing you a whole lot of pain. If the damage to your tooth is extreme and the pulp has been compromised, you may be referred to an endodontist for a thorough evaluation and treatment, but if the damage to your tooth is minor, it is likely that a general dentist or cosmetic dentist can repair the broken tooth with minimally invasive procedures. The only way to know is to see your dentist, and you might find the solution is simpler than you think.

Why did a piece of my tooth break off?