Fix Chipped Teeth

Despite being the hardest tissue in the body, tooth enamel is not indestructible and can chip.  It is common for a tooth to chip or crack after a person bites down on hard food or a chunk of ice.  So that patients know what to do when this occurs, we will discuss how to manage and treat a chipped tooth in this article.

Professional Treatment for a Chipped Tooth

If a tooth gets chipped, cracked, or otherwise damaged, it is important to visit a dentist as quickly as possible for evaluation and treatment.  Failure to treat the chip could lead to more damage and possibly infection that could result in serious health complications and potential tooth loss.

How severe the damage from the tooth chip is will determine the treatment.  Should a small portion of enamel be broken off, the dentist can likely fix the tooth in a single visit.  However, if the tooth is severely damaged a more extensive procedure could be needed which may require more than one visit to the dentist.  Some of the treatments the dentist may recommend include:

  • Fillings or Dental Bonding: If a small piece of enamel has chipped from a back tooth (molars and premolars), the dentist might be able to repair the area using a filling.  Should the damage be to a front tooth, a tooth-colored composite bonding resin may be applied to restore the tooth.  Bonding is relatively simple and generally does not require anesthesia.  The procedure begins with the dentist gently etching the surface of the tooth using a mildly acidic gel.  Then an adhesive is applied followed by the composite resin.  The resin is shaped to look like a natural tooth and ultimately hardened with an ultraviolet light. Dental Veneers: Ideal for chipped or broken front teeth, dental veneers can be applied by the dentist to restore a healthy appearance.  Veneers are custom made to match the patient’s specific needs and are made of a thin shell of porcelain or composite material that is applied over the surface of the damaged tooth using a special adhesive.
  • Dental Crown: If a substantial portion of the tooth is lost, the dentist may opt to file down some of the remaining tooth before capping it with a crown.  Crowns protect the tooth, preserve functionality, and improve cosmetic appearance.  If the damage to the tooth is so severe that pulp is exposed, the dentist may perform a root canal therapy to remove the dead pulp before capping the tooth with a crown.

Managing a Chipped Tooth at Home

While it is always recommended to see a dentist as soon as possible for a chipped tooth, there are self-care measures that can be taken until a dentist can be seen:

  • Manage pain or discomfort using pain relievers such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or aspirin
  • Reduce the risk of infection by frequently rinsing the mouth with salt water
  • Cover any sharp or jagged edges of the tooth with paraffin wax to protect the cheeks and tongue
  • Stick to a diet of softer foods and avoid biting down on the tooth that is damaged
  • Use Dentemp, an over-the-counter product available at pharmacies and drugstores to temporarily treat chipped teeth until a dentist can be seen

More on Fixing Teeth : Fix Broken Teeth

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