Whether you’ve bitten into a hard piece of food or taken a nasty tumble, a chipped or cracked tooth can be a painful and scary experience. However, the good news is that modern dentistry techniques mean there are now many different ways to fix a chipped tooth, in order to restore your smile quickly and without hassle.
Check out our guide to addressing a chip or crack in your tooth, so you know exactly what to do should a dental mishap arise.
What can cause a chipped tooth?
Even though tooth enamel is one of the strongest substances in your body, it can still be vulnerable to chips and cracks.
Some of the factors that may cause teeth to become chipped include:
● Uneven chewing pressure
● Stress or strain on teeth
● Accidents that impact the oral cavity
● Biting into hard foods such as nuts, toffee, hard candy or ice
● Teeth grinding or clenching
● Significant changes in mouth temperature, such as consuming extremely hot or cold substances
Is a chipped tooth an emergency?
Whether or not a chipped tooth is an emergency depends on the situation itself.
If the tooth is causing you significant pain, or if there are jagged pieces of tooth in your mouth that could cut your cheeks or gums, then it’s best to seek emergency dental care.
In some cases, the chip will be noticeable, but not be an immediate health issue. In this case, it might feel strange to touch the tooth with your tongue, but it does not cause you pain. It’s also not an emergency if the tooth is not at risk of cutting your tongue or cheeks with sharp edges.
However, even if your chipped tooth is not an immediate emergency, it’s still best to make an appointment with your dentist. They will be able to assess the damage and recommend the best treatment for your situation.
What should I do if I chip my tooth?
Firstly, don’t panic! Your National Dental Care or DB Dental practitioner can help to address your chip and work to restore your smile as quickly as possible. If it’s an emergency, we also offer same-day dental appointments, so contact your local practice to make an appointment.
Until you can get to the dentist, it’s important to avoid placing any unnecessary pressure on the affected tooth. Steer clear of chewing on that side of your mouth and also avoid hot or cold foods.
If you’re experiencing pain as a result of your chipped or cracked tooth, you can take painkillers to alleviate this. It’s also a good idea to rinse your mouth out with warm salt water, in order to get rid of any bacteria.
How do you fix a chipped tooth?
Once you’re in the dentist’s chair, your dentist can assess the damage and decide on the best course of action to address your chipped or cracked tooth.
There are a number of options for fixing cracks and chips in tooth enamel, which will depend on the severity of the damage. Here are some of the dental treatments that may be recommended to restore a tooth that’s become chipped or cracked:
This method is often used for small or less complex chips. Bonding involves moulding a composite material over the chip, which is attached over the tooth and shaped to create a natural-looking cover over the chipped tooth.
The bonding is then set using a special blue light to harden the material. If you practice good oral hygiene and take proper care of your chipped tooth, bonds can last for up to ten years.
If the chip or crack is more serious or complex, your dentist may recommend a dental veneer to cover the damage.
A veneer involves a thin layer of porcelain, which is applied to the front of the tooth. The result is a smooth, natural-looking appearance that matches your original teeth. As veneers can be applied over multiple teeth to create a consistent look, you might want to upgrade your overall smile while fixing your chipped tooth!
Veneers are durable and hard-wearing, lasting up to twenty years if properly cared for.
Dental crowns are similar to veneers in that they cover the surface of the teeth. However, unlike veneers, crowns are designed to cover the whole tooth rather than just the visible part at the front.
If the crack or break in your tooth resulted in quite a lot of the original tooth being lost, dental crowns may be a suitable option. Crowns can also help to prevent further damage to the tooth, such as tooth decay and pain from exposed nerves.
If your crown needs to be applied over two visits, you’ll be given a temporary crown in the meantime to protect your damaged tooth.
If your chip occurs on a back tooth or molar that isn’t prominent in your mouth, dental fillings may be the best treatment option.
While metal fillings used to be the most common type, nowadays we have more advanced materials such as porcelain that provide a better match for the natural look and feel of your other teeth.
Root Canal Treatment
In severe circumstances, such as when the majority of your tooth is broken off, your dentist may recommend root canal surgery as a restorative option.
Root canal treatment involves a special post placed into the canal of your tooth in order to rebuild the structure sufficiently to allow a crown to be attached. The final result is a perfectly restored smile.
What happens if you don’t fix a chipped tooth?
The impact of a chipped tooth can be varied.
Of course, there’s the simple aesthetic element. If the chip is obvious, it will be visible as you eat and drink and in photos until you get it fixed.
But there are also much more serious consequences. Firstly, a chipped tooth can be a weakened tooth, which means you might be leaving it prone to other chips and cracks, which can make the situation much worse.
And with a chipped tooth, there is the possibility of the tooth becoming infected and the nerve damaged. This can lead to much bigger issues such as infection inside the tooth and nerve death, which typically requires a root canal (and later a crown) to fix.
Whether it’s a small chip or a large one, getting it fixed is usually well worth the time and investment to avoid greater problems down the track.
Is a chipped tooth worth fixing?
A chipped tooth isn’t only a cosmetic issue, it can lead to serious oral health problems if not seen to early. If you’re concerned about a chip in your tooth find your nearest dental practice and book an appointment with National Dental Care today.