Chipping a tooth can happen much easier than we sometimes think. One minute you’re chewing your food with ease, and the next you may feel around and realize part of your tooth is missing. While chipping a tooth doesn’t always happen as easily as this, accidents can happen, leaving you with a visit to your emergency dentist. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, it’s important to use our “Dentist Near Me” ZIP search tool and find an emergency dentist right away to prevent infection and potentially save your tooth. Having a chipped tooth is not only painful, but it can leave you feeling self-conscious as well, depending on where the chip has taken place. Follow these tools to take care of your chipped tooth before it becomes a larger dental issue.
What to Do if you Chip a Tooth
You’re out surfing and the next thing you know, a board hits you it the mouth leaving behind a missing portion of your tooth. Or perhaps you’ve been chewing on ice and you hear a crack that signifies the loss of a piece of your tooth. There are many ways patients chip their teeth – from accidents to tooth decay. The important takeaway is knowing what to do if you find yourself in this situation. You’ll want to see a dentist as soon as you can to prevent an infection from happening and assess the damage. Refraining from doing so can lead to the loss of your entire tooth, which is much more intensive to repair than a chip. You can quickly use a dentist near me search to find emergency dentists in your area. At Castle Dental, we offer emergency dentists with extended hours to be there when those dental emergencies really shouldn’t wait.
At-Home Care for Chipped Tooth
While you are waiting to schedule your emergency dentist appointment, there are a few things you can do to take care of your chipped tooth. If you are in pain because of the chipped tooth, take an over-the-counter pain reliever to alleviate some of your discomfort. You can also use a saltwater solution to rinse your mouth, reducing swelling and chances for infection. Try not to eat hard foods, or try chewing on the opposing side of your mouth being cautious of how the chip on your tooth is impacted. Opt for softer foods such as soup, applesauce, or smoothies. If you have a jutted edge to your tooth that is affecting your cheeks, gums, or other teeth you can use a piece of dental wax to cover the tooth to prevent it from rubbing on anything else. Dental wax can be found at most pharmacies.
Types of Chipped Teeth
The way your tooth breaks can help guide your dentist to which type of treatment option will be the best for you. The more severe the break, the more intensive your dental procedure will be to fix it. Ultimately, your dentist will work to save your existing tooth. If extraction is inevitable, patients can look to dental implants to restore the tooth that was there.
Cracked teeth can be difficult to detect at times, especially if the crack isn’t entirely noticeable. If you notice some toothache symptoms, or sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages, it could be a sign your tooth has cracked. If you feel pain when you release your bite on something, it could be a serious sign that the tooth has been cracked. If you think you have a cracked tooth, you’ll need a dentist to repair your tooth to prevent infection, tooth decay, or any nerve damage. The crack within your tooth enamel will leave room for bacteria and plaque to become easily trapped, risking tooth decay and infection. Knowing the extent of how deep the crack is affecting your tooth will need to be assessed by a dentist. If it is on the surface or fairly small, your dentist may be able to polish your tooth’s surface, making it smooth once again. If it’s larger, your dentist will look to a filling to repair the rest of your tooth.
A chipped tooth is what most people think of when picturing a dental emergency. Chips can happen from accidents or tooth decay. However it happened, it will leave a portion of your tooth missing, which isn’t just a cosmetic downside. If the chip is very small, you might not even need treatment. For larger chips, your dentist can use a dental filling to replace the area of the tooth enamel that broke off. If you have experienced a chipped tooth, be sure to visit your dentist anyways to assess the damage. The worst thing you can do is leave your tooth untreated and susceptible to infection.
A Broken Cusp
The cusp of your tooth is the chewing surface of your tooth. Not only is this part of your tooth crucial to its performance, but chipping it can require more extensive dental work to repair. Luckily, these kind of breaks typically don’t cause much pain to the patient, as it doesn’t directly impact the nerve within your tooth. Your dentist will need to repair the tooth to prevent any grooves where cavities can occur, and to give your tooth its proper functioning back.
Severe Chip or Break
These types of breaks generally come from accidents involving trauma to the mouth. There could be bleeding from the tooth when this type of break occurs, and can result in a lot of pain as the nerve of your tooth is typically exposed. If the root of your tooth has been damaged, your dentist will work to remove the nerve by root canal and restore the tooth with a dental crown. With your dental crown, your dentist will be able to work on the color and shape to give the tooth a natural appearance. Some patients may need orthodontic treatment if the tooth has been shifted, depending on the force.
Chipped Tooth by Tooth Decay
Tooth decay works by weakening the enamel on your tooth. When this happens, it can be much easier to crack or break the affected tooth, even from simple chewing. The tooth decay is also happening from within the tooth, so the exterior enamel can crumble away. When this happens, restoring the tooth can be much more difficult depending on the extent of the damage.
Ways to Prevent a Chipped Tooth
While you can’t prevent accidents from happening, there are a few steps you can take towards protecting your smile and lessening your chances of a chipped tooth from occurring. Try using a mouth guard when playing heavy contact sports or hockey. This small act could help save you a trip to your emergency dentist. Always incorporate routine professional teeth cleanings and oral exams with your dentist on a regular basis. In doing so, you’ll help your teeth remain free of tooth decay and potential breaks in the future. Oral exams and dental X-rays are also a way for your dentist to see if a small crack has occurred, and if they can save the tooth before the issue worsens. Catching issues as these early on can be critical to saving you time, money, and pain if the conditions lead to larger issues down the road.
Repairing a Chipped Tooth
Smooth it out.
For fairly small cracks that occur on the surface on your tooth’s enamel, your dentist may be able to polish your tooth and eliminate the small amount of space that could accumulate bacteria and plaque. These are often seen during routine oral exams or dental X-rays. You may not even notice you have a crack on your tooth, but treating it earlier can help the crack from worsening or from tooth decay developing.
Use a filling or bonding
When the chip, crack, or break in a tooth is fairly small, your dentist can use a filling or bonding to restore function back to the tooth. If there is any sign of tooth decay at play, your dentist will thoroughly clean the affected tooth before filling the hole are missing area with a type of resin. This resin is known as bonding, and can often has the same color as your natural tooth. If the missing area needs some minor rebuilding, your dentist will scratch the surface of your tooth to give the bonding better adherence. From there, they will shape and mold the bonding material to fill in the missing portion of your tooth. Then, your dentist will use a UV light to harden the composite material and polish it to match the rest of your existing tooth. Fillings and bondings are a great option for minor chips, and can last a long time with proper at-home care.
If the chip in your tooth hasn’t affected any nerve endings and is purely cosmetic, your dentist may suggest using a dental veneer instead of a filling or dental crown. Veneers are thin sheets of material either composed of porcelain or resin composite that are placed over, or on top of, an existing tooth. Your dentist will work by shaving down the enamel of your tooth, or teeth, before placing temporary dental veneers on while you have one designed in a lab based on a mold from your tooth. Some dentist offices do offer same-day veneers which allow their patients to select from a prefabricated veneer that is then shaped to their smile. For most veneers, it will take two visits to your dentist before the procedure is complete.
A nice aspect of using veneers to restore the look of your chipped tooth is that you can customize the color and shape of the veneer, which can have a dramatic impact on the appearance of your smile. While veneers can be on the costlier side of methods to repair a chipped tooth, they last a long time with proper care. They can also provide patients an opportunity to restore the appearance of their smile, going beyond simply repairing the chipped tooth.
Using a dental crown
Dental crowns can be used to fixed a variety of dental issues, but using them to fix chipped or broken teeth is quite common. You can think of a dental crown as a type of cap that is applied over the tooth, holding it together and shielding it from bacteria and plaque. They are a great option when there isn’t enough of the tooth left to recreate with filling or bonding. Dental crowns are made from different material, some being metal and others being comprised of porcelain or resin. For teeth that are visible, patients can opt for porcelain or resin dental crowns to create a more natural-looking appearance.
To apply a dental crown, your dentist will first treat your chipped tooth. If there has been any bleeding or trauma, they will have to see if a root canal will need to be performed to save the existing tooth. If it the tooth cannot be saved, they will need to extract it and use a dental implant instead. For a tooth that is still intact, your dentist will then take a mold to create an exact impression for the dental crown to be made. You will then receive a temporary dental crown to provide some function and appearance to your tooth while your dental crown is being made. Once the permanent dental crown is ready, the temporary dental crown is removed so that the permanent one can be cemented to your tooth.
Needing a dental implant
Sometimes, the chip in your tooth can be so severe that your tooth cannot be saved. If a tooth has been knocked out by the root, or if the damage done cannot leave a tooth in its integrity, then a dental implant will be needed to recreate a tooth. During this process, if your tooth is not already removed, your dentist will fully extract the tooth. The implant uses a metal screw or frame that is surgically put into your jawbone, provided you have healthy gum and bone tissue.
Once they are in place, your dentist can use them as a framework to build a tooth around. Typically, patients will have a dental crown put over their dental implant to provide them a full functioning tooth. This procedure provides a sturdier option over others, although they can be quite costly.