How Long Can a Broken Tooth Go Untreated?


A broken tooth should be treated as soon as possible to prevent future complications. Waiting to seek treatment for a broken tooth could result in extreme pain and sensitivity, oral infection, and even loss of the affected tooth.

There are several potential treatments available for a broken tooth. Your dentist must examine your teeth to determine which might be the best for your particular needs. Treatments for a broken tooth can include fillings, crowns, and possibly a dental implant if the tooth must be removed.

How Do You Know You Have a Broken Tooth?

There isn’t an easy answer to how you’ll know you have a broken tooth because your symptoms and experience could depend on which tooth is cracked and how severe the fracture is. In general, tooth pain and sensitivity can be signs of a broken tooth, but they can also be signs of other conditions that require dental care.

Some common symptoms of a broken tooth include:

  • Sporadic pain, especially when chewing food
  • Temperature sensitivity when eating or drinking
  • Swelling in your gums around the affected tooth
  • A toothache when biting or chewing

How Soon Should a Broken Tooth Be Treated?

A broken tooth is considered a dental emergency and should be treated as soon as possible.

The Canadian Dental Association (CDA) recommends that most people visit their dentist for a dental exam and cleaning every 6 months. So, if you begin noticing symptoms right before your appointment, you can discuss the symptoms then. But if it’s going to be a while before your next dental checkup, you should seek more immediate care with your dentist.

Complications from an Untreated Broken Tooth

A broken tooth doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be in excruciating pain or the tooth is about to fall out. Sometimes it may be a hairline fracture that you don’t even notice until your dentist points it out, but it’s still important to seek care if you begin noticing symptoms, so you can prevent further complications.

Pain & Sensitivity

The enamel of your tooth—the protective outer layer—doesn’t have any nerve endings in it, but when your enamel is damaged from a crack or break, the nerves underneath could be exposed to temperature or impacts. So, a cracked tooth can often result in pain and temperature sensitivity when the inner parts of your tooth are exposed.


A tooth infection leading to an abscessed tooth could be the result of a crack in your teeth. Normally, your enamel stops bacteria from penetrating your tooth and causing an infection. But when your teeth are cracked, this protection can be compromised.

An infection causing an abscessed tooth can spread into your gums and the surrounding gum tissue or bone. If a tooth abscess goes untreated, you may experience severe pain and could require more extensive treatment.

Tooth Loss

There is a possibility of losing broken or cracked teeth, depending on how severe the fracture in the tooth is and how long it’s left untreated. A broken tooth could fall out on its own due to the damage, or your dentist may need to extract it to prevent other complications, such as infection.


Potential Treatment Options for a Broken Tooth

Because there isn’t a single best way to treat a broken tooth, it’s important to speak with your dentist about your treatment options. Much of the approach for treating a broken tooth can depend on how severe the fracture is and how quickly it’s addressed.

Dental Crown

A dental crown is typically made from ceramic or porcelain and can be used to restore a cracked tooth by covering the damaged area. Covering a fracture with a crown can help strengthen teeth, prevent further breaking, and stop bacteria from causing an infection.


Fillings are commonly used to repair a cavity, but your dentist may be able to use a filling to repair a minor tooth fracture. This is often only possible if the fracture is still small and not deep. Other treatment options may be more suitable for treating more severe tooth damage.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is another treatment option similar to a filling that can be used for treating slightly larger fractures or chips. The bonding process involves applying resin to the affected tooth and hardening it with a special light.

Dental Implant

Your dentist may recommend a dental implant if tooth extraction is the unfortunate result of a broken tooth. One thing to consider about an implant is they typically require healthy gums and bones. Your dentist can determine whether or not a dental implant is a treatment option suitable for your oral health.

Discuss the Next Steps With Us

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of a broken tooth, it’s important to see your dentist right away. Treatment can be easier and more effective the earlier tooth damage is diagnosed and treated. After we examine your teeth, we can provide a recommendation on the right treatment for your particular needs.

Contact us to seek care and ask any questions you may have. We can answer your questions about the next steps for your cracked tooth. Our experienced dentists are here to help keep your smile healthy.