Common causes of chipped or broken teeth are

  • Chewing ice, hard candy, nuts, popcorn kernels, and other hard foods
  • Clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism)
  • Practicing such contact sports as martial arts, wrestling, football, etc
  • Using teeth as a tool to open bottles, packages; to break tape and tags

Less common and preventable are the following causes

  • natural wear
  • large fillings
  • extensive tooth decay
  • previous root canal

These all compromise a tooth's strength, making it more prone to chips and breaks.


  • Minor fractures that involve only the enamel (hard outer covering of a tooth) can be fixed on the same day by bonding the existing fragment or composite restoration.
  • For larger fractures involving enamel and dentin (hard tissue beneath the enamel), they can be fixed the same way as enamel fractures but crowns are sometimes required needed as a definitive restoration.
  • For adults where the pulp (nerve) become exposed, root canal treatment is usually required, followed by a crown for definitive restoration, this requires an endodontist (root canal specialist) and a general dentist and may take several visits to the dental clinic. For young patients, it is very important to preserve the vitality of the pulp to secure further root development.
  • When the root is fractured with and without pulp (nerve) exposure, temporary stabilization can be made on the same day, definitive treatments can vary from removal of the fragment to extraction of the affected tooth.
  • All fractures normally require clinical and radiographic (x-rays) control at 6-8 weeks and 1 year.


Although composites are permanent restorative materials, a composite may get discolored over time and porcelain is considered more durable compared to the composite resin material. Your dentist can advise you about the best possible treatment to your case according to the extent of the fracture.