Chipped tooth is a common dental problem that can affect anyone. It is caused by a variety of factors, from trauma and accidents to tooth decay and cavities, and it has several degrees of severity. But, whatever the reason, it is best to have your chipped tooth restored promptly. A chipped, cracked or fractured tooth not only affects your smile, it can cause pain and lead to a costly dental condition. And even if there’s no pain, getting the affected tooth fixed will prevent future severe problems.
Depending on the severity, your dentist may recommend any of the following methods of chipped tooth repair:
4 Different Options For Repairing Chipped Tooth
- Enamel Shaping
This is the simplest, cheapest and fastest way to restore chipped or broken tooth. It is recommended in cases where the damage to the tooth is relatively minor and the risk of developing further problems is nonexistent. It involves the removal and/or restructuring of the chipped portion (on the outermost layer of the tooth) in order to create a smooth, uniform outer surface.
During the procedure, the dentist will grind away and buff the chipped areas. Then, he or she will smooth off the rough edges via polishing to achieve a smooth, re-contoured surface with enough strength and fewer imperfections. Enamel shaping makes chips and other surface flaws less noticeable and may even help eliminate them completely, restoring the appearance of your smile. The re-contoured surface receives less biting pressure, ensuring relief for the affected tooth while reducing the risk of further damage.
Enamel shaping is an ideal solution for correcting minor chips on teeth. The procedure is quick and generally pain-free and the results are immediate. But if the damage is substantial, you may have to explore other options. Your dentist may combine enamel shaping with the other restorative procedures.
Dental bonding is one of the most recommended procedures for rehabilitating chipped or cracked tooth. It’s also one of the easiest, fastest and most cost-effective treatments at your disposal. It involves the application of a composite resin filling material to the tooth to mask the chipping and the resultant imperfections. The procedure works well for minor to mild cases, though it’s also frequently used as a transitional treatment option to help patients transition into more permanent dental fixtures as they can afford or as their treatment sequence requires.
During the procedure, the dentist will permanently attach composite resin material to the chipped tooth using a combination of dental adhesives and a curing light. The composite resin material covers the chipped area of the tooth to restore it and improve both function and appearance.
Like any other procedure, dental bonding starts with a little advance preparation. Anesthesia is often not part of this preparation, as the procedure does not cause any pain. The dentist begins by choosing a resin color that perfectly matches the surrounding teeth. Then, he inserts a rubber dam to isolate the tooth and keep moisture out. Next, he roughens the surface of the chipped tooth using a technique known as acid etching, which involves applying a harmless phosphoric acid solution. Roughening of the tooth surface helps improve the bonding strength between the composite resin and adhesive, and it takes only a few seconds.
After surface roughening, the dentist removes the acid and replaces it with a bonding agent. He then covers the surface of the affected tooth with a putty-like composite resin material. This tooth-colored resin is applied in stages, and each application is followed up by appropriate shaping and sculpting. To harden the resin layers, the dentist shines a high-intensity UV light or laser on to the material for a few seconds. Finally, the dentist smooths out the material and shapes it further, finishing the process by polishing the surface, so that the repaired tooth resembles as closely as possible the original tooth.
The procedure takes about 30-60 minutes to complete, and it can be completed in just one dental appointment. It’s typically recommended for front teeth, since the chipped tooth can be restored in such a way that it looks, feels, fits, and functions like the surrounding teeth.
If your chipped tooth has suffered extensive damage and poses more severe functional and cosmetic issues, your dentist may recommend veneers as way of repairing it. Veneers are thin shells of porcelain, which are attached to the front of the teeth to mask imperfections like chipping. But it’s also worth noting that Lumineers and composite resin veneers made from a plastic material are also available. All veneers are bonded to the front side of the teeth, the one that is exposed to the outside world when a person smiles. They cover the entire front surface of the toot. This makes it a great solution for hiding the appearance of chipping or chipped tooth restorations like filling. The piece of porcelain molding recreates the natural appearance of teeth, while also providing strength and resilience comparable to that of natural tooth enamel.
The typical veneers installation process takes 2-3 appointments, but placement of prefabricated versions takes only one appointment. During the first appointment, the dentist prepares the tooth by removing a small amount of the enamel to provide room for the veneer. He also takes impressions of your teeth, which are then sent to the lab where a technician prepares a veneer that matches your natural teeth. At this time, you’re given an opportunity to make decisions regarding the size, shape, shade, and style of veneer that best complements your face and smile. While you are waiting for your veneer to be fabricated, you have to wear a temporary veneer. The permanent veneer is cemented to the prepared tooth during the second dental visit. You may require follow-up visit(s), but this will depend on your situation.
Veneers are cheaper and a lot less intrusive compared to crowns. While this is good, these restorative dentistry fixtures don’t provide the strength and support needed to deal with the worst cases of tooth damage arising from chipping. These often call for the placement of crowns.
If a relatively large piece has broken off of your chipped tooth, the best treatment option would be to have your dentist grind away part of what remains and place a dental crown over it. The dental crown, or cap, is a protective covering that imitates that look of your natural tooth. It covers the entire tooth, rather than the forward-facing portion of the tooth. Because of this, a crown is able to provide more support and protection to the damaged tooth compared to a veneer.
Teeth crowns can be made of ceramic, resin, metal or porcelain-coated metal. Each has its own pros and cons, but all-metal dental crowns are the strongest and most durable. However, if maintaining the natural appearance of your teeth and smile is your main goal, then you would be better off with porcelain or resin crowns as they tend to look similar to real teeth. Dental caps are often used in conjunction with other restorative techniques to establish a more permanent solution for chipped tooth. If a great deal of your tooth has come off, your dentist may carry out dental bonding and/or place a pin or post and then cover the new structure with a crown. Applying tooth filling or composite bonding makes the damaged tooth large enough to properly fit the crown.
The dental crown placement procedure usually takes 2 separate dentist appointments. At the first visit, the dentist examines and assesses the chipped tooth to determine if it’s a good candidate for the procedure. Once he has ascertained that the remaining piece can support a crown, he prepares the tooth by removing some of its enamel to make room for the cap. Next, the dentist takes impressions of the affected tooth and those surrounding it. These impressions are sent to a lab and used in the fabrication of the permanent crown, which is fitted at the second dentist visit. The fabrication process can take anywhere between 2 and 3 weeks and in the meantime you’ll have to make do with a temporary crown which is placed during this first visit. After the fabrication of the permanent crown is finished, the dentist removes the temporary cap and cements the finished crown into place.
Once installed, veneers and crowns can protect your chipped tooth for anywhere between 5 and 20 years; but some crowns are known to last up to 30 years. This is a big range, and the exact lifetime of the restoration will depend on the material used as well as your dental hygiene and habits.
First Aid For A Chipped Tooth
It might take several hours or days before you can see your dentist and explore repair methods. In the meantime, you can care for your damaged tooth by:
- Taking an over the counter pain medication like Tylenol to reduce pain and swelling.
- Rinsing your mouth with salt or saline water to remove food particles, prevent infection, and reduce pain.
- Covering the sharp edges of the chipped area with a sugarless gum
- Avoiding temperatures that could set off sensitivity
- Eating only soft foods
Chipped Tooth Repair Cost
The cost of getting your chipped tooth repaired can vary widely depending on many factors such as the type of procedure, complexity of your case, geographical area, materials used in the restoration and the specific dentist. As you might expect, dental practices in large metropolitan areas typically charge much higher for restorative procedures compared to dentists located in small rural towns.
Also, individual dentists have their own unique set of factors that they must take into account when determining the fees to be charged. For example, when creating the fee schedule, a dentist must consider their cost of operation including office expenses like rent, salaries, to staff, insurance, etc., cost of materials and supplies, lab costs, socioeconomic status of the clientele they are trying to cultivate, as well as their professional expertise and reputation. These issues are different for each dentist, and that’s why the prices for tooth repair vary so much. Nonetheless, we have reliable cost estimates, of which you can use to get an idea of how much you can expect to pay for your restorative treatment.
Tooth reshaping to restore chipped teeth costs between $50 and $300 per tooth, depending on the extent of work needed. On the other hand, the average cost of dental bonding ranges from $300 to $600 per tooth. Porcelain veneers can cost anywhere from $600 to $2000 per tooth depending on where you live in the country; while the average cost of a dental crown is between $600 and $1,500 per tooth.
As you can see, the price of getting a restorative procedure to repair chipped can be substantial and a major expense for anyone. If you have dental insurance, your insurer can help offset the cost of chipped tooth repair. If not, then you might want to explore various dental work financial assistance programs and financing options available to you from different sources, including Medicaid.