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It's common to break, chip or knock out a tooth after a blow to the face or even after eating something hard.
If the tooth is just chipped, you should make a non-emergency dental appointment to have it smoothed down and filled. If the tooth has been knocked out or is badly broken, see a dentist immediately.
In the meantime, while you wait to see a dentist, you can follow the advice below on how to care for your broken or knocked-out tooth. It covers what to do in the following situations:
The sooner a knocked-out tooth is re-implanted, the more likely it is to embed itself back into the gum. So if you don't want to be left with a gap, make an emergency appointment to see your dentist and follow this advice:
The above advice only applies to adult teeth – children's milk teeth should not be re-implanted (an adult tooth will soon grow in its place).
Usually, your dentist will want to re-implant your tooth as soon as possible. If you have already attempted this yourself, they will check that the tooth is in place correctly.
The tooth will then be splinted to the teeth next to it, to hold it in place while it heals. Clear plastic or a thin piece of wire will be used. You may need to keep the splint on for one or more weeks – your dentist will advise you.
Most people choose to have a lost tooth replaced, especially if it is a front tooth. Your dentist will replace the tooth with either:
A denture, bridge or implant may improve the appearance of your smile and make eating easier. Also, if a missing tooth is not replaced, it may affect the way your upper and lower teeth bite together, and the neighbouring teeth may start to grow at an angle into the gap.
However, not everyone needs to have their tooth replaced, and some people don't mind having a gap. Speak to your dentist about your options.
If you have broken your tooth, do not try to re-implant the fragment back into your gum – store it in a clean container and cover the fragment with milk or saliva until you can see a dentist.
You will need to have either a special type of filling or root canal treatment, depending on how much of the tooth has broken off.
If you have just chipped the edge of one of the front teeth, your dentist will probably smooth the uneven edge and replace the missing bit with a tooth-coloured filling.
If part of a back tooth (molar) is broken, so that a section of the chewing surface has broken away, this will probably be replaced with a crown (a cap that covers your tooth).
If you have broken a tooth halfway down and damaged the network of blood vessels and nerves in its centre (the pulp), root canal treatment will be needed to remove the damaged pulp from your tooth, as this can become infected. The space will then be filled and the tooth sealed with a filling or crown. Learn more about root canal treatment.
Important: Our website provides useful information but is not a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor when making decisions about your health.