Broken or Chipped Tooth

A broken tooth may occur as a result of chewing hard foods, trauma, or by grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism. Sometimes the broken teeth are already full strength and at risk of breaking. This risk is higher when the tooth already has extensive restorations (large filling or crown). Teeth with notable cracks in them are also at a higher risk of breaking.

When the break in the tooth is minor, the treatment is as simple as a direct restoration, or filling. This is indicated when the broken portion does not involve the cusp of the tooth. When the cusp is broken on a tooth, the ideal solution more often involves an onlay or crown.

Sometimes the break in the tooth is so extensive, that the tooth is not able to be repaired. In these cases, the tooth is likely extracted and efforts are focused on replacing the missing tooth. When a tooth breaks, discuss options with your prosthodontist. They will help assess the extent of the break and recommend the ideal treatment for your specific tooth.


A chipped tooth may occur when you chew on hard foods, may be caused by an accident or may be caused by grinding your teeth, also known as bruxism. You may not even realize that you have a chipped tooth. A chipped tooth may not be visible to the eye or show up on an x-ray. A chipped tooth may cause pain or sensitivity if biting causes pressure on the chipped tooth. Treatment may vary depending on the size and location of the chipped tooth.

The appropriate treatment for a chipped or broken tooth will depend on the extent of the damage to the tooth. Some chipped teeth will only require smoothing, but others may be so badly broken that extraction will be necessary.