Ever eat dinner while watching a Lakers game and be so engrossed that you forget to completely remove the fork from your mouth before you close? I have. There was a "crunch," which sent me running to the bathroom mirror...
Sure enough, a piece was gone from my front tooth. Now what? Luckily it was small and not painful. I fixed my tooth with a small bonding of tooth-colored material.
Sometimes the accident causes damage which is much larger. We often can still fix it in one visit with bonding. The result is that it looks like nothing happened. This is a procedure that I really enjoy accomplishing for my clients.
Have you seen when the break is so large that part of the pulp inside the tooth becomes exposed? I have. A client was boxing to keep a local gang out of his neighborhood, and the guy kept hitting him even after his mouthguard came out (that's a topic for another blog), and broke off half his tooth at an angle, front to back. This meant he needed a root canal treatment and a crown to save his tooth.
A small pulp exposure, if treated shortly after the accident, sometimes will only require being covered. Observation for changes is a must. It might still need a root canal treatment. Even if the pulp is not exposed, the pulp sometimes dies from the trauma later. This happened to a client that was skateboarding (not wearing a mouthguard), and broke the same front tooth twice.
Lesson: prevention is best, but if accidents do happen to your teeth, they can be fixed and you get to keep your teeth.