If enamel is the hardest substance in the body, why do teeth break?

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Despite enamel being so strong, teeth are still at risk of breaking/chipped. Factors which can lead to teeth break are: Decay, Trauma, Tooth wear. Learn more

why are my teeth breaking so easily?

Every human Tooth are made up of four main substances;
  • Enamel
  • Dentine
  • Cementum
  • Pulp
Enamel is the mineral layer which covers the outside of the crown of the tooth and is the hardest substance in the human body. Despite enamel being so strong, teeth are still at risk of breaking/crack.
I Have seen similar cases whereby every patient keeps on complaining every week about having a tooth unexpectedly break while eating. For some patients, this is a shocking event, but for others, it is a frequent event that does occur for years.

I have heard similar conversations with other dentists, in the medical and dental field and I have participated in a gathering where we talk about this common issue (why do teeth break).

The way I can explain why teeth break/crack is that excessive biting forces are used during chewing, swallowing or clenching the jaws.  They may already be weakened from tooth decay. 

Factors which can lead to teeth break are:

Tooth Decay 

Risk factors which can lead to cavities and decay in teeth include taking a lot of sugary foods and drinks that build up plaque. The sweet things formed an acid over time, causing tooth enamel to soften and spread to the dentine underneath, causing a hole to develop. To reduce your risk of decay, you must reduce sugary foods and drinks, especially snacks in between meals. 
 You should give your mouth the best oral hygiene possible by maintaining a high standard of dental care, which include brush two times daily with your fluoride toothpaste, and floss every day. Visit your dentist and hygienist regularly to have your teeth examine and cleaned. Your dentist may recommend specific products to help strengthen your enamel, such as fluoride mouthwash or Tooth Mousse.Why do teeth break or chipped?

Trauma 

As a result of injury or biting on hard substances teeth can break or crack. To avoid teeth chipping off or breakage due to injury, always wear a mouthguard if you are a sports practice and avoid walking in a slippering area. If you must work where a firm and fitting shoe or sandal.


Tooth wear

  1. Due to grinding – Nighttime grinding, also known as nocturnal bruxism, can lead to weakened enamel which leads to tooth fracture. It is caused by certain drugs, sleep apnea, and stress or anxiety. Signs of a grinding habit can include a slight headache while waking, sore jaw and it becomes obvious that your family can be able to hear you grinding at night. Your dentist will be able to give you the advice to help you stop the grinding and may prescribe a nightguard to help protect your teeth from excessive wear
  2. Due to erosion – Certain acids from foods and drinks, or acid reflux, can lead to thinning of your enamel. These foods include citrus fruits and foods preserved in vinegar. Acidic drinks include fruit juices, sports drinks, and wine. The frequent intake of acidic food or drinks is the greatest risk factor contributing to dental erosion. So, try to cut off acid that can expose your enamel and help to reduce the risk of subsequent tooth fracture. If you think reflux is the problem, see your doctor he/she we provide you with appropriate care or advice on what to do next.

How to Care for a Chipped or Broken Tooth  

Finally, once tooth enamel has been lost, the damage is irreversible. So, in order to maintain healthy teeth for life, visit your dentist regularly, eat a healthy diet and practice optimal home dental hygiene and care.

In the meantime, practice the following self-care measures:  


  • If the tooth is painful, take acetaminophen, paracetamol or another over-the-counter pain reliever. Rinse your mouth with salt water.
  • If the broken tooth has caused a sharp edge, cover it with a piece of temporary dental types of cement if you have access to it or sugarless chewing gum to prevent it from cutting your tongue or the inside of your lip or cheek.
  • If you want to eat, eat soft foods only and avoid biting down on the broken tooth.
  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water saline
  • Apply pressure on any bleeding areas using gauze or a clean handkerchief
  • Apply an ice pack to your cheek if there’s any swelling
  • If you’ve fractured or broken a tooth, follow all these steps immediately and avoid brushing it, and make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible.


Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on how severely it is damaged. If only a small piece of enamel broke off, the repair can usually be done simply in one dental clinic visit. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure. 

4 ways your dentist may repair your broken or chipped tooth.

Article Sources:
  • New Connexion Magazine: "oral health"
  • The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide: "When Teeth Get Damaged." 
  • Worldental.org: "Emergency Broken Tooth Repair." 
  • Indiana State Department of Health: "Broken or Displaced Teeth."  
  • WebMD Health: oral health guide "repairing a chipped or broken tooth"
  • Jay Harris Levy, DDS: "why do teeth break". https://www.jayharrislevy.com/Why_Do_Teeth_Break.html
  • Smile solution Australia: "enamel hardest substance body teeth break

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Health soothe: If enamel is the hardest substance in the body, why do teeth break?
If enamel is the hardest substance in the body, why do teeth break?
Despite enamel being so strong, teeth are still at risk of breaking/chipped. Factors which can lead to teeth break are: Decay, Trauma, Tooth wear. Learn more
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