Why Do Teeth Break?

  • Posted on: Mar 20 2017

Having a tooth break can be painful and traumatic. After all, we’re used to our teeth being strong and sturdy to bite into food and to help us speak, and sustaining damage to them can expose sensitive nerves and tissue to air, and hot and cold food. Unfortunately, chipped, fractured, and broken teeth are not rare. In fact, we regularly see people with these issues come into our New York clinic for care. The reasons for these dental injuries are as varied as our patients, but there are some common factors. Here are a few situations that might cause breaks or cracks in your own teeth, as well as some approaches to repairing the damage, like fillers or root canals.


Athletes are especially prone to hurting or losing teeth, particularly if they compete using fast-moving equipment (hello, baseball pitches and flying hockey pucks), battle opponents in the ring, or speed down steep, rocky mountain terrain. A hit to the mouth, whether through athletics or a tough tumble and fall, can easily cause a tooth to break or fall out completely. Wearing a mouthguard can help keep damage at bay, but in the event of an tooth injury, you’ll likely need a root canal or a replacement implant.

Tough foods

Biting into something hard is one of the more common ways that people crack or break a tooth. Often this is more about the underlying condition of your teeth than the food you are eating, but chomping down on something that is particularly tough can do the trick on its own. When possible, avoid chewing on hard candy and ice cubes. Additionally, you should never use your teeth for things that don’t involve consumption. For example, don’t try to open bottles or tear packages with your mouth. Stick with openers and scissors that are made for those particular reasons and save your teeth some trouble.

Weak teeth

With time, teeth can become brittle and frail, making damaging them easier. Decay-induced breaks start as simple cavities, but they can develop to eventually cause a tooth to split or crumble from the inside out. You can help prevent this by maintaining a solid dental routine at home as well as seeking regular dental checkups where a trained professional can catch early damage before it becomes a larger problem.

Regardless of if you have a small chip or crack or have sustained a larger break or split, when you damage a tooth, you need to seek the care of a professional to relieve any immediate pain and avoid more extensive root, pulp, and nerve damage. The way we approach your treatment will depend on the extent of your damage. Minor hairline fractures and chips that only impact you aesthetically can often be smoothed out and polished or filled in with material. However, with more substantial breaks, inflammation and infection are a risk, and a root canal or complete tooth removal and replacement may be necessary.

Don’t delay seeking help to fix or prevent broken teeth. If you have questions about your options, call or schedule an appointment today.

Posted in: Root Canals