How to Fix a Broken Tooth

How to Fix a Broken Tooth

Your teeth are coated with a protective layer known as tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is extremely strong and is actually the strongest material in the human body. However, even though tooth enamel is very strong, it can still be damaged by using your teeth to open packages, chewing on hard objects, biting your nails, or grinding your teeth. In some cases, even biting down on hard foods, like nuts, can damage your enamel.

damaged tooth

Unfortunately once your enamel has been damaged, it can no longer protect the inside of your teeth as well. When enamel becomes damaged, it will either chip or crack. Both chips and cracks provide an entrance for harmful bacteria to enter your tooth. Once inside, bacteria can cause a pulp infection that requires a root canal. Not only that, but once your tooth has chipped or cracked, it is more likely to continue to become damaged since its structure has already been compromised. 

For these reasons, it is important to have a broken tooth fixed as soon as possible. When it comes to fixing broken teeth, your dentist has a variety of options to choose from. In some cases, there may be certain options that will work better than others, depending on the location and extent of the damage. Here are some ways that you can expect your dentist to fix a broken tooth: 


Composite Bonding

If the damage to your tooth is a minor chip or crack and you are looking for a fast fix, then your dentist may recommend composite bonding. Composite bonding involves applying tooth-colored composite resin to the broken tooth structure and then hardening it in place to fill in chips and cracks. Since it is considered a direct restoration, the entire procedure can be completed in a single dental appointment. Additionally, composite resin is able to bond directly with tooth enamel, meaning that there is little preparation needed to repair the tooth. 



Veneers are another option for fixing broken teeth that are also known for their ability to increase the overall appearance of your smile. They are thin shells, usually made from  porcelain that can be applied to the front side of visible teeth. When applied to a broken tooth, they restore the look of the affected tooth. However, since porcelain does not bond with enamel like composite resin does, a thin layer of enamel will need to be removed prior to having veneers placed. 


Inlays or Onlays


Inlays and Onlays are indirect fillings, meaning that they are fabricated outside of the mouth before being bonded to the natural tooth. They are similar to composite fillings, however they are used in cases where there is more damage that can safely be filled with composite resin. An inlay restores the chewing surface of the tooth, while an onlay restores the chewing surface, as well as one or more of the tooth’s cusps. 




Crowns are tooth-shaped caps that fit over the entire visible portion of a damaged tooth. They are generally used in cases where there is a significant amount of damage that affects the majority of the natural tooth structure and cannot be fixed with veneers or composite bonding alone. Dental crowns are also used when the damage is so severe that it reaches the pulp layer of the tooth. To place a dental crown over a damaged tooth, the affected tooth will need to be reshaped to accommodate a crown. In some cases, composite resin may also be used to build up the structure in some areas so that the crown has enough support. 


Dr. Deborah TabbPatients at Bethesda Family Dentistry benefit from the knowledge and experience that only comes from a diverse team. From general dentistry to endodontic, periodontics, and cosmetic dental services, this Bethesda, MD clinic is ready to be the only source you need for all your oral health needs.
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