The Consequences of Ignoring Chipped or Cracked Teeth

Having a chipped or cracked tooth doesn’t just affect your appearance—it can also impact your oral health. Whether you have a small chip in your tooth or a significant fracture, it’s important to seek dental care as soon as possible to protect your smile.

What are the consequences of ignoring chipped or cracked teeth? Here, we examine how broken or chipped teeth can compromise your smile and why you shouldn’t ignore the damage.

Common Causes of Chipped and Cracked Teeth

Your teeth are pretty strong. In fact, tooth enamel, the hard, protective layer covering each of your teeth, is the hardest substance in the human body. However, while tooth enamel is stronger than steel, it is also brittle, which is how teeth can chip and crack.

Common causes of chipped and cracked teeth include:

  • Chewing or biting on hard objects, such as ice, nut shells, and popcorn kernels
  • Existing tooth decay
  • Malocclusion (a misaligned bite)
  • Oral piercings, such as tongue or lip piercings
  • Teeth grinding
  • Trauma to the mouth or face
  • Weakened tooth enamel, which can happen with age

Effects of Chipped or Cracked Teeth on Your Dental Health

No matter your age, chipped and fractured teeth have the potential to affect your smile. Here’s how.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay

When a tooth is chipped or cracked, it can create small crevices or openings in the enamel. These crevices can make the tooth more susceptible to harmful bacteria and erosion that can result in tooth sensitivity, discoloration, and tooth decay.

Ignoring a chip or crack doesn’t typically result in a cavity right away. Cavities usually start small and progress over time. However, ignoring damage to your teeth now can result in more extensive dental work later.

Heightened Sensitivity and Discomfort

Chipped or cracked teeth are often accompanied by increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. As the protective enamel is compromised, the inner layers of the tooth become exposed, making it more susceptible to temperature changes and causing discomfort.

Fractured teeth are more likely to result in tooth sensitivity, which can range from mild discomfort to sudden or severe sensitivity. However, chipped teeth can also cause uncomfortable sensitivity that requires treatment. 

Risk of Dental Infections

When a tooth is cracked, the inner pulp and nerves become more vulnerable to infection. If the crack is deep enough, bacteria can penetrate the tooth and impact the nerve tissue inside, leading to a painful dental abscess and infection.

If left untreated, these infections can worsen and even spread to surrounding tissues. Tooth infections that have spread can even be life-threatening if they aren’t treated promptly.

Potential for Tooth Loss

Chips and cracks can weaken a tooth and result in a compromised tooth structure. If left untreated, the affected tooth may become weaker and more susceptible to additional damage, especially when subject to continuous pressure from biting and chewing.

Over time, a cracked tooth that hasn’t caused symptoms can suddenly get worse and cause pain, swelling, bleeding, and even tooth loss if the complications are too extensive to be treated.

Tooth Discoloration

If your tooth has experienced a fracture, it’s possible that the fracture has extended down into the nerve tissue, also called the pulp, of your tooth. Even if the initial damage wasn’t significant, untreated fractures can worsen over time from the repeated pressure of biting and chewing.

Cracks that have reached the center of the tooth can cause the tissue inside to become infected or die, which can cause discoloration. This discoloration can range from a pale gray to a darker blue or even black. If you have a single discolored tooth, a fracture may be to blame.


Cavities, infections, and tooth sensitivity that result from chipped or cracked teeth can all cause painful toothaches. Like many dental problems, toothaches can start mild and worsen over time. However, some patients may experience sudden tooth pain that constitutes a dental emergency.

If you have a chipped or cracked tooth that has resulted in a toothache, don’t wait to seek treatment. Seeking dental treatment as soon as possible can save your teeth and protect your health.

Misaligned Bite

A chipped or cracked tooth can disrupt the alignment of your bite, causing an uneven distribution of pressure when chewing. Whether you have chipped or cracked an incisor or one of the cusps on your molars, your bite can be affected.

Bite issues can lead to difficulty chewing, chronic discomfort, and a higher risk of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders. While not every chip or fracture will impact your bite, it’s always a good idea to have the damage addressed by your dentist to prevent problems later.

Treatment Options for Chipped and Cracked Teeth

The sooner you seek treatment for your chipped or fractured tooth, the more options are generally available.

Fortunately, fixing a chipped tooth is often a simple procedure with dental bonding, which is when your dentist applies composite resin, the same material used in tooth-colored fillings, to the tooth. The material will be shaped and polished to match your tooth so it is protected and the chip is no longer visible.

Patients with multiple chips in their teeth and want a more comprehensive treatment option that addresses other cosmetic issues like minor misalignment or discoloration may have the option of dental veneers. Dental veneers cover the front surface of your teeth to improve your appearance and conceal imperfections such as chips.

There are different treatment options for cracked teeth, depending on the nature of the crack. Some cracked teeth can be repaired with dental bonding, while others may require root canal therapy and a dental crown to protect the structural integrity of the tooth.

Since ignoring a chipped or cracked tooth can result in the problem worsening over time, seeking treatment as soon as possible after the damage has occurred is crucial.

Fix Your Chipped or Cracked Tooth With Saunders DDS

Whether your smile has been impacted by multiple chips or you believe you have a tooth fracture, it’s important not to wait to seek treatment. Contact Saunders DDS today at (828) 277-6060 or reach us online to schedule a consultation and explore treatment options for your chipped or cracked teeth and regain a healthy, confident smile!

Take control of your smile and schedule a consultation today with our expert Asheville dentist to address chipped or cracked teeth.