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Common Reasons Teeth Break

September 19, 2018
Posted By: Dr. Heather Gentry
Broken Tooth | Gentry Dental Charlotte NC

There are many reasons why teeth break, and surprisingly, many times the tooth doesn’t hurt before or after breaking. Even if it doesn’t hurt, it’s important to see your dentist to fix the tooth before it becomes painful or becomes so broken down that you lose the tooth.

Some of the top reasons your teeth may chip are:

Old, large silver fillings

The larger a filling is, the weaker the remaining enamel is around it. Over time, that weak enamel can break off, causing a dental emergency. The broken tooth is vulnerable to decay, further breakage, and can cause painful ulcers in the mouth from sharp edges

Old Silver Fillings | Cosmetic Restorations Charlotte NCCosmetic Fillings Charlotte NC | Gentry Dental

Clenching or grinding your teeth

Bruxism, or clenching/grinding of the teeth, is very common. Many people do this at night while they are sleeping and are not even aware of it. Habitual grinding of the teeth can cause small fractures in the enamel, that get larger over time. The end result is usually part of the tooth breaking off, or even the tooth splitting in half. This isn’t really surprising when you consider that 400-600 pounds of pressure per square inch of tooth occurs when grinding your teeth!

Chewing on ice or other hard objects

Enamel is a very strong material, but it isn’t designed to crunch on very hard objects. Doing so causes cracks in the enamel and can lead to broken teeth.


Cavities, especially the ones in between the teeth, can grow quite large before they are noticed. Bitewing x-rays generally pick these up when they are small, but if it has been awhile since you’ve seen the dentist, you may have “in-between cavities” that you cannot see. These cavities are soft and undermine the hard enamel surface of the tooth, making the tooth prone to breaking.


This can be from something as simple as unexpectedly biting on a fork, hitting your front teeth with a glass bottle, or sports injuries to the mouth

What to do if you break a tooth:

Contact us immediately - we will make every effort to have you seen by the doctor the same day.  If the break doesn’t involve the nerve in the tooth and there is still good tooth structure left, we can make a crown to cover and protect the broken tooth. The crown can usually be done the same day and in one visit with our CEREC technology.

If you are unable to schedule an appointment right away, you can use a temporary filling material from the drugstore to cover the exposed inner surface of the tooth that may be sensitive. This can also cover any sharp edges that may cause ulcers on your cheek or tongue.


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