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A tooth is vulnerable to getting chipped or cracked, even though it is very, very strong. Falls, punches to the face, motor vehicle accidents, tooth decay that can weaken the tooth or biting down on hard foods (candy, ice, fruit, etc.) can cause a tooth to chip or break. You may or may not feel pain, but regardless the first thing to do is see a dentist to prevent further damage and protect your tooth.

A dentist will determine the size and seriousness of the tooth injury.

A small fracture can often be repaired by smoothing and polishing the chipped tooth.

A medium sized break may mean the enamel of the tooth is damaged and will often require a cap, filling or crown to be placed over the tooth so that it is protected from infection and can be restored to its previous appearance and biting ability.

A large crack may be deep enough to expose the nerve of the tooth. This may mean your dentist will need to do a root canal to fix the damage done to the nerve, then place a crown or cap over the tooth. In very serious cases, the tooth will have to be removed.

If you can’t get in to see the doctor right away, there are some things you can do in the meantime to ease the pain of your cracked tooth, and protect it from further injury.

Rinse your mouth with warm water.
Press a piece of gauze gently against the tooth if there is bleeding.
Place an ice pack on your check or lips near the tooth to minimize swelling.
Cover the injured area with dental cement (available at most drugstores), dental wax or even chewing gum for temporary protection.
Take a pain reliever.
Familiarizing yourself with the steps to take in the event of a broken or chipped tooth could come in handy if ever needed. And seeing your dentist regularly and brushing regularly can help prevent at least one cause of chipped teeth, tooth decay.