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What happens when a tooth is broken?

Pooja comes back from the school with a dejected face. When her parents enquired, they came to know that her friends were making fun of her brownish black tooth. Her parents were wondering how it happened? After a brainstorming session of what happened to that tooth, they remembered that she had a fall a year back and a part of her front tooth had broken.

Pooja did not complain of any pain after a couple of days after that incident. But now, that tooth has turned into a brownish black color. How did it happen?

Such stories are very common and we have heard or witnessed them many times.

This article can throw some light upon what can happen to a broken tooth if left untreated.

  • Your teeth are the strongest structures in your body. But despite their strength they can still get damaged when there is a fall.

  • The hard outer layer is the Enamel, underneath your enamel is a soft layer of yellowish tissue called Dentin. It makes up the bulk of your tooth. The most inner layer of your tooth is known as Pulp which actually gives the sensation of cold and hot to the tooth.

  • Any fall can fracture a tooth and it can range from a chip in the hard enamel exterior to complete breakage of an area leaving the dentin and pulp exposed to the outside.

  • Since, the tooth enamel contains no nerves or blood vessels so enamel loss may not cause pain. When the dentin or pulp is exposed to air/cold water, the tooth hurts. Bacteria can infect exposed pulp over time causing more pain, discoloration of the remaining enamel.


  • It is usually due to a fall or a hit to the face or mouth.

  • Teeth can also break due to grinding and clenching habits that may cause enamel to be worn away or fracture off.

  • If large cavities are not treated, the decay in the teeth can eventually cause breaks, especially in the back teeth.

  • Finally, old and large fillings that do not properly support the remaining tooth structure can also fracture.


When a tooth breaks, it may or may not cause you pain. But no pain is not equal to no treatment required.

A broken tooth will slowly change in color from white to yellow to brown and then finally black. This happens because the pulp(the nerves and blood vessels) start disintegrating slowly because of the trauma. This might take months to even years.

If the break in the tooth is close to the nerve, you may experience a range of sensations, which range from mild sensitivity to cold and hot to extreme toothaches that are almost unbearable.

You may experience increased pain when biting down because biting puts pressure on the tooth. Sometimes there may not be any pain initially, but after sometime, there may be a boil on top of gums with some fluid discharge.

Sometimes, the sharp fracture line on the tooth may irritate your tongue or cheek.


It is important to seek dental treatment as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the nerve.

The proper treatment for your broken tooth is determined by your dentist depending on the type of fracture and the size of the fracture. Small chips can be repaired with a tooth-colored restorative material called composite.

Larger chips, broken cusps, and cracked teeth may require crowns and/or root canal treatment, depending on the depth of the damage. An X-ray will help us decide what to do about the tooth.

Decay-induced breaks, which are teeth that crumble because a cavity has weakened them from the inside out, may require a new filling, a crown, a root canal, or even extraction.

When it comes to any dental treatment, remember the three E’s mantra

“Earlier the Easier and Economical”

At Dental Ville, we treat patients with utmost care and every issue they face to the best of our ability. Our foremost aim is to preserve the NATURAL tooth for the longest time possible. Hoping to see you sport your best smile forward.

Stay safe.

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