Chipped tooth is a relatively common dental problem in both adults and children. As long as you are using your teeth to chew, you’ll always be faced with the risk of chipped tooth. This teeth problem can be caused by a variety of issues, and can lead to more serious dental complications when left unaddressed. But that doesn’t mean you should worry or get stressed. Chipped tooth is a problem that can be fully addressed with the right restorative dental treatment.
If you or a loved one has chipped tooth/teeth, don’t panic. We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide on how to fix a chipped tooth. Through this guide, you’ll be able to educate yourself about chipped tooth, which can go a long way in treatment and prevention of this problem.
But let’s first look at the causes.
Causes of Chipped Tooth/Teeth
The possible causes of cracked and chipped tooth include:
- Biting down on or eating hard food items
- Using your teeth to open packages or bottles
- Biting on hard objects
- Suffering trauma to the mouth from falling flat on your face or from a sports injury or accident
- Untreated cavities or other dental condition that weakens the tooth enamel
- Weakened filling, crown or other dental treatment
- Metal tongue barbells (from tongue piercing)
- Clenching of jaws and/or grinding of teeth
Why You Shouldn’t Ignore Chipped Tooth
If you happen to notice or suspect that you have chipped tooth, don’t hesitate and take appropriate and necessary steps to address the issue immediately. Failure to seek immediate treatment for your chipped tooth could see your ‘small’ mishap turn into a major dental issue like:
- Severe tooth damage
- Tooth infection
- Tooth decay
- Fractured or cracked tooth
- Nerve damage
These dental teeth issues can ultimately lead to the need for an expensive procedure like root canal, tooth extraction or implant. So you’ll need to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can once you notice that your tooth is cracked, fractured or broken. But how do you know if your tooth is chipped?
Signs You Have Chipped Tooth
- Apparent signs of physical damage on teeth (visible using mirror), specifically jagged ends of tooth
- Increased sensitivity, particularly when eating hot or cold food items and beverages
- Swelling and pain
Here, it’s worth noting that many forms of chipped tooth do not hurt. This is particularly true for minor chipping and fractures. With these kinds of chipping, the only to know if you have a problem is to do a visual inspection of your teeth using a mirror. But your tongue may feel the sharp, jagged ends of the chipped tooth.
Tooth chipping only becomes apparent when a large piece or many small pieces of the tooth have chipped away. In such instances, the chipping can be felt, seen or touched; and is usually accompanied by symptoms like sensitivity, discomfort and even pain. Sometimes there’s no discomfort, but pain occurs when you chew on something or when you release the bite.
Whatever the case, you should make a point of seeing your dentist as soon as possible.
Taking Care of a Chipped Tooth: Immediate Care
In the meantime, try the following self-care strategies for chipped, broken or fractured tooth.
- Rinse and press. If you’ve had a sudden chipping of the tooth and there’s bleeding as a result, rinse your teeth with warm water and use a piece of gauze or a tea bag to apply to apply pressure to the area so as to stop bleeding.
- Apply a cold pack. Place a cold compress (ice pack) on the area where your tooth was hit to reduce any pain and swelling thereof.
- Use over-the-counter medicines to manage your pain. Take non-prescription pain relievers to deal with tooth pain.
- Use wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum to deal with sharp or jagged edges. Use sugarless chewing gum or wax paraffin to cover those sharp, jagged edges of the chipped tooth.
- Use dental cement. Alternatively, cover the chipped area of tooth with dental cement if you can’t see your dentist the same day for one reason or another. Covering the chipped area of the tooth helps protect the remaining tooth and to prevent further tooth damage that could lead to complications.
- Eat a tooth-friendly diet. Avoid hard-to-bite food items as well as foods and drinks that contain too much sugar.
Options for Fixing a Chipped Tooth
There’s no way to fully treat a chipped tooth at home. This problem can only be fixed by a qualified dentist. So if you have a chipped tooth, the first step in the restoration process is to see your dentist. Your dental professional will assess your tooth and determine whether the damage is purely superficial or it is more serious and the tooth’s pulp chamber has been breached.
During the dental examination of your mouth, your dentist may ask you some questions to find out about how you ended up chipping your tooth and how much discomfort and pain (if any) you are in. They may also take dental x-rays, or radiographs, in order to get a clear view of any underlying nerve damage.
If the chipping is minor and there’s no deep-seated damage to the pulp, which contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, your dentist will most likely recommend a cosmetic procedure that is appropriate for your situation. Sometimes all that is required to deal with small tooth chips is filing down the sharp edges and you can enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile that is fully restored.
However, if your chipping is extensive and a large piece of the tooth has come off, a restorative procedure may be required in order to give your teeth a more uniform appearance so you can smile confidently again. Your dentist will guide you in exploring various chipped tooth treatment options, including:
Dental bonding is an ideal treatment procedure for minor chipping occurring on the outermost layer of the tooth, or enamel. This procedure involves the application of a resin material over the chipped tooth to mask the chipping and give the tooth a uniform, natural appearance. Composite bonding, when applied properly, can last up to ten years.
During the procedure, the dentist will roughen the surface of the chipped tooth and apply a conditioning liquid. The conditioning liquid helps the bonding material adhere to the tooth. Then, the dentist will put on an adhesive material onto the tooth followed by the tooth-colored resin material. Your dentist will take time to shape the resin material to look like your natural tooth. Next, an ultraviolet light will be used to harden the composite bonding material. Finally, the dentist will smooth the resin and shape it further, ending by polishing it, so that it looks exactly like your natural tooth.
The procedure takes about 30-60 minutes to complete for each tooth, and no anesthesia is required unless bonding is being used to mask cavities. It is ideal for masking chipping occurring on the front teeth, where any restorative material should match a person’s tooth color as closely as possible.
Veneers are another restorative option for chipped tooth, which is often recommended for situations where the chipping poses a more severe cosmetic issue. They consist of thin layers or shells that are permanently fixed to the front sides of the tooth with cement to mask imperfections; though there are also temporary, removable press on veneers that can serve the same purpose.
Veneers for hiding the appearance of chipped tooth are available in two: porcelain and resin composite materials; but porcelain offers the best option as it produces the most attractive and realistic results. The veneer for your chipped tooth will be custom-made for it so that it can fit onto the tooth perfectly. Impressions of your teeth will first be taken before being sent to a lab, where your veneers will be custom-made. During the preparation of your veneers, you’ll be forced to wear temporary veneers for a while. Once they are ready, the temporary veneers will be removed and your new veneers will be bonded to the front of your affected tooth.
Crowns can be a good treatment option if your tooth is badly chipped or if you’re experiencing pain or sensitivity when chewing or drinking. They are some of the most popular restorative treatment for chipped tooth.
The dental crown or cap is permanently placed over the chipped tooth by a dentist to strengthen it, restore its original shape, and improve its appearance. It can be made from porcelain, metal or a combination of the two; though porcelain is frequently the choice for many since it helps create a natural, uniform look.
During the procedure, the dentist will numb the affected area using anesthesia or sedation. Then, he or she will prepare the tooth by removing some of its structure to make room for the dental crown. The impressions of your tooth will also be taken and taken to a lab, where the crown will be custom-made. Once the permanent crown is ready, it’ll be placed and fixed onto the tooth using cement.
If the chipping on your tooth is so large that is has already exposed the pulp to bacteria and infection, root canal therapy may be required to treat it. This procedure involves removing any decayed soft tissue inside the tooth and sealing the cracked or chipped area of the tooth. Sometimes after the procedure, a dental crown or cap may be placed to protect the affected area, strengthen the tooth, and improve the teeth appearance.
If the chipping on your tooth has reached the surface just before the gumline, your dentist may find it hard to restore it and may recommend tooth extraction followed by a dental implant. But, this is only carried out as a last resort when all other options have been exhausted. For your irredeemably damaged tooth, your dentist will first remove the tooth and allow the area to heal. Then, the dental professional will add a titanium post to serve as a root for the implant before installing the implant itself at a later appointment.
A chipped tooth is a dental problem that is fairly easy to fix, but that doesn’t mean you should take it lightly. Take care of your chipped tooth as quickly as possible by making an appointment and discussing your options with your dentist. With the right dental advice and restorative treatment, you will be back to a beautiful, chip-free smile in no time.