- by Dr. Ravneet Dhillon
- December 8, 2022
Wondering what to do when you have a chipped tooth?
It is important to understand how the chipping occurs and when you need a chipped tooth repair. Although tooth enamel is amongst the strongest substances, it can be damaged due to a number of reasons. Chips and cracks are cosmetic as well as health issue. There can be damage to the roots of the teeth, infection, pain, and swelling.
Is it chipped or do I have a cracked tooth?
This is a common question. A tooth remains intact when a crack occurs. This crack may extend all the way down from the gum line to the chewing surface. The crack or the fracture line may be visible to the naked eye or may show in an x-ray or under a microscope. Sometimes this crack can extend to the root and pulp causing severe pain.
A chipped tooth, on the other hand, is a broken tooth. A small or a bigger portion of the tooth may be broken due to a number of reasons.
Causes of a chipped tooth
- Injuries during contact sports when one does not wear protective gear
- Falls, accidents, and other injuries
- Biting down on hard foods like ice or hard surfaces
- Tearing tough packaging or plastic with teeth
- Compulsive or night time teeth grinding
The various risk factors
These are the factors that make a tooth or the teeth more prone to cracks, chipping or fractures. These are-
- Playing contact sports without protective gear
- The habit of biting on hard surfaces and food
- Teeth grinding
- Previously injured or cracked tooth is more prone to further damage with less impact
- Cavities and other health issues which weaken the teeth and the tooth enamel
- Acid reflux, eating acidic foods and soft drinks like soda, and fruit juices can break down the enamel over time
- Poor oral hygiene exposes teeth to bacterial degradation and infections
- As one age, the enamel and teeth weaken
Symptoms of a chipped tooth
- An uneven or jagged surface
- Gum irritation or swelling
- Bite to the cheek or tongue
- Pain from pressure when eating or biting a food
- Sensitivity from food and water
How to fix a chipped tooth?
Dental problems are not only cosmetic issues but they also cause a lot of pain and distress. When a person has a chipped or cracked tooth it can lead to pain, loss of tooth if not treated in time, a change in appearance, etc. The treatment, cost, time, and healing depend upon the type of injury, the extent of damage, and how early the damage is addressed, amongst other things.
How to fix a chipped tooth at home?
Now, this is something most people want to know and this is only possible with minor damage. In other cases, you will need dental treatment. Even in the latter scenario, there are certain things you can do before seeing the dentist at Morgan Hill Dentistry which is an emergency dental clinic that can minimize the damage, reduce pain and reduce distress.
Here is what to do when you have a chipped tooth or a cracked tooth.
If you have a slightly chipped tooth, you can do salt water rinses, take over-the-counter painkillers, and use gauze to press the site to stop bleeding if present. You should rinse your mouth after eating and drinking. You need to be careful about avoiding eating or biting on hard stuff, especially with a slightly chipped tooth. In some cases, the crack may only be present in the enamel which can be managed at home.
When the crack is more extensive, or chipping is severe, there is a lot of pain or sensitivity, sharp edges, etc, it is important to see a dentist soon. Also, it is better to see a dentist in all cases of the chipped or suspected chipped tooth.
This is because some damages may not be visible but will show in an x-ray. These may extend to the root or the pulp chamber and treatment needs to be done. A dentist will be able to decide the type and extent of treatment needed.
Before you reach the dentist for chipped tooth repair, this is what you can do
- Use clean gauze and ice to stop the bleeding
- Rinse with salt water if there is no bleeding
- Use a temporary tooth repair kit which may contain dental wax or other materials to cover the tooth and fill the gaps
- You can also use sugarless chewing gum to cover the sharp surface temporarily but be careful about not swallowing the gum
- Take over-the-counter painkillers
- Reach out to your dentist to seek advice regarding home care and get an appointment
Treatments for a chipped tooth
Chipped tooth repair depends upon the type of chipping, the extent of damage, type of injury, etc.
Most times, the cracks are visible to the naked eye and chips are very much obvious. Some cracks and fractures or the extent of cracks are visible under the microscope or with an x-ray. You can feel the jagged, sharp or uneven edges. A proper diagnosis is made by a dentist.
The treatments include-
- Smoothing or polishing the rough or jagged surface
- Dental bonding to repair the cracks or fillings may be used for fractured cusp
- A root canal when the crack is more extensive and extends to the pulp area
- A crown or a veneer may be used along with root canal
- For partial molar chipping, dental onlays can be an option
- Surgery, extraction, and other methods may be used in more severe chipping or cracked tooth when the tooth cannot be saved
- Tooth reattachment may be an option when you can take the fragment to the dentist soon. Wash the segment and save it in a glass of milk
Can a chipped tooth heal itself?
There is no way for a chipped or a cracked tooth to heal itself. This is why all cases of chipped teeth need to be assessed by a dentist. For a slightly chipped tooth, you can wait and manage with home remedies before you see a dentist.
With the damage only to the enamel or a minor chip, you may not need any treatment. For a badly chipped tooth or when you have moderate to severe pain and/or sensitivity, you need a quick appointment at a dentist in Morgan Hill.
You will need X-rays and examination to evaluate the injury and structures involved. Never ignore such injuries as the damage increases with time and can lead to significant distress as well as expenses.
Is a chipped tooth serious?
This type of damage or injury must be treated as serious because it can create different types of problems. When the chipping causes uneven and sharp surfaces, you can cut your tongue or have bites.
When the chipping is a consequence of a decaying tooth with cavity or a weak tooth, not treating it right away will cause the crack to extend and you will eventually have to go for extraction.
Even when it occurs due to an injury and severe chipping occurs, the same results are there. You can have pressure sensitive and/or temperature sensitivity when nerves get exposed or the damage reaches to the root. This will cause unbearable pain. Sudden breaks can occur which can be serious.
There are increased chances of developing infection.
Whenever the problem advances, the treatment options become more advanced, expensive, and time taking.
This is why you should always treat a chipped tooth as an emergency.
It is important to see a dentist in all cases of slight or extensive tooth injury or damage. At Morgan Hill Dentistry, you will find the best solutions for chipped teeth delivered with care and expertise in the most comfortable environment.