Chipping or knocking out a tooth (or teeth!) can be painful and stressful. Not only can it cause major changes to your appearance, but not treating a chipped tooth can cause additional health problems in the future. But not to worry, we’ve broken down the steps you can take to minimize the damage and start smiling again!
Types of chipped teeth
Not every chipped tooth is the same, and the type and severity of your chip will determine how your tooth will be repaired. These are the most common types of chips:
- Crown Fracture – This occurs on the part of the tooth above the gum line. There may be a fracture present or a piece of the tooth may chip off entirely.
- Root Fracture – This occurs when the tooth is broken below the gum line. The tooth may be dislodged or removed entirely. These cases often require the fragments below the gum line to be removed in addition to surface repairs.
- Loose or moved teeth – This is the most severe type of fracture, occurring where the tooth sits inside the jaw bone. This is most common in severe trauma cases – a dentist will be able to diagnose this accurately with an x-ray.
I chipped my tooth, now what?
Whether your chipped tooth happened because of a trauma to your face, or something as simple as eating a hard candy, here are the next steps to take to get it repaired:
- For serious injuries, call 911 or go to an emergency room.
- Ensure you treat any other injuries related to the chip. If the injury was due to trauma, first ensure there is no injury that requires other medical attention. Teeth, where there is dental decay or where previous dental work was done, are more likely to chip and break. A chipped tooth may be more likely to occur on a tooth where dental work previously was done, or where there is dental decay.
- If there is bleeding, use gauze to stop the flow. Rinsing your mouth with warm water or warm saltwater can gently clean the area. If you are experiencing pain in the area, take over-the-counter medication to reduce swelling and relieve pain until you see your dentist.
- Recover any loose tooth fragments. If there are pieces able to be recovered, place these in water and bring them to the dentist. Your dentist may use the fragments to repair the tooth, or can use as a reference for shape and color while restoring your smile.
- Lastly, contact an emergency dentist. Your emergency dentist will be able to promptly address your injury and advise you on how to proceed with treatment.
It’s important to see a dentist as soon as possible, as leaving a chipped tooth untreated can lead to other problems like infection or decay.
What dental procedures can fix a chipped tooth?
Depending on the type and severity of your chip, your dentist may use one of the following procedures to repair your smile:
- Dental Filling or Bonding. If you have chipped off a small piece of your tooth, your dentist may choose to repair the damage with a filling. If the repair is to a front tooth or can be seen when you smile, your dentist will likely use a procedure called bonding, which uses a tooth-colored composite resin. To bond a tooth, the dentist first etches its surface with a liquid or gel to roughen it and make the bonding material stick to it. Next, the dentist applies an adhesive material to the tooth followed by a tooth-colored resin. After shaping the bonding material to look like a natural tooth, the dentist uses an ultraviolet light to harden the material.
- Dental Cap or Crown. If a large piece of tooth breaks off or the tooth has a lot of decay, the dentist may grind or file away part of the remaining tooth and cover it with a crown, or tooth-shaped cap. Dental caps and crowns are made to protect the tooth and improve its appearance.
- Root Canal. If the entire top of the tooth is broken off but the root is still intact, the dentist may perform root canal therapy and place a pin or a post in the canal, and then build up enough of a structure onto which a crown can be made. Later, the dentist can cement the crown over the pin or post-retained restoration.
- Dental Veneers. If a front tooth is broken or chipped, a dental veneer can make it look whole and healthy again. A dental veneer is a thin shell of tooth-colored porcelain or resin composite material that covers the whole front of the tooth with a thicker section to replace the broken part of the tooth.
If you have chipped your tooth and need repairs, call our office immediately! We’ll evaluate the type of chip and create the best treatment plan to restore your smile.