Whether you were biting into something too hard, or you had an injury to the mouth or face, the result can be a broken or chipped tooth. Although our teeth are very strong, chips or cracks are relatively common. No matter what, it is essential to visit a dental professional to check and fix the chip or fracture as soon as possible. Fortunately, there are various treatment options by which a dentist can fix a chipped tooth. Read on to find out about these treatments and learn what are the potential causes of a broken or chipped tooth.
What causes a chipped tooth?
There are many reasons teeth can chip or crack. The common causes include:
- Biting down on something hard, such as ice, hard candies, or harsh pieces like bone in your foods
- A hard hit to the mouth, jaw, or face, for example, while playing sports or being in a car accident
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Poor oral hygiene
- Using teeth for opening packaging, bottles, or tearing things
What to do first with a broken or chipped tooth?
If your tooth is chipped or broken, see your dentist as soon as possible. Dental injuries like chipping are pretty common and require a dental professional to fix the issue. The damaged tooth is fragile and there can be an underlying problem done to the dental pulp. So, before your dental visit, it is important to take action to prevent further injury, the rise of infection, or even the loss of the tooth.
There are some home remedies which might help decrease your pain or discomfort before you make an appointment. You can:
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
- Rinse your mouth with salt water to prevent infection.
- Apply an ice pack indirectly (use a clean cloth in between the ice and the affected tooth) if you feel continuous pain.
- Put chewing gum or dental wax over your chipped tooth if there are rough and jagged parts of the broken tooth which can cut or cause irritation to the tongue or your mouth.
- Use a piece of gauze to apply pressure on the affected spot if your mouth is bleeding.
Chipped tooth treatment
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on the severity of the damage. Your dentist will be able to fix and repair your tooth either with a simple procedure like bonding. Or, you may have to go through an extensive treatment like dental crowns to get it fixed.
Here are the treatment options that your dentist can use for fixing both large or minor chipping:
For small and mild chips, dental bonding is generally recommended by a dentist. Your dentist will first choose the best shade of the composite resin to match the color of your teeth. Then the tooth-colored composite resin material is applied to the tooth and shaped to achieve the appropriate contour and look.
Bonding offers a number of great benefits. It is a simple, affordable, and quick procedure. In addition, you will have a natural look that lasts years with proper oral hygiene.
Porcelain veneers are a great option if you want a much longer-lasting and more natural looking repair. They are shell-like restorations which are placed on the front surface of the tooth, unlike bonding which fills different parts of a tooth.
Placing a veneer requires some removal of tooth enamel. This makes veneers a completely irreversible procedure compared to dental bonding. Porcelain veneers, however, are made of ceramic as porcelain is a strong type of ceramic. They can last up to 10 years if you take good care of your teeth.
While bonding can degrade and need replacement or touchups much more frequently, veneers don’t, due to their strength and stain-resistant capability. One other thing is that porcelain veneers are generally more expensive. Also, if they need to be replaced, they are not as inexpensive as bonding.
When you have lost a large part of your tooth and the chipping or breaking is so significant that can’t be fixed with other methods, a dentist will have to place a crown. To do that, your dentist should file down the decayed, damaged, and much of the tooth from the entire top and side surface so that the crown will be cemented over the remaining tooth.
The good news is there are different types of crowns made up of mainly ceramic, metal, or combination of both. With that said, crowns are the strongest restoration and the preferable option to help restore severely broken and chipped-off teeth perfectly. They protect a tooth and work great to get back its function, size, and appearance.
A crown procedure will normally take 2 dental visits. In the first, your tooth is prepared and an impression is taken of your teeth, which is then sent to a dental lab to make your crown. Your dentist will make you a temporary crown to protect your tooth. After waiting for 2 or 3 weeks, you will then come back for your final appointment for permanent crown placement.
Some dental offices may have the advanced technology and milling machine to create CEREC same-day crowns. These crowns are made and cemented in place in just a single dental appointment which can save you a lot of time and no requirement for a temporary crown.
Root canal treatment
If the tooth chip or crack is deep, there is a great risk that the pulp—the soft tissue inside a tooth containing the nerves and blood vessels—may have been damaged and infected. The common symptoms are persistent pain, sensitivity to hold or cold, and a change of color in the tooth.
Therefore, a root canal treatment is needed to remove the infected pulp. The procedure can be done by a general dentist or an endodontist.
Root canal involves removing the dead pulp, disinfecting and shaping the root canals, filling the roots with a special material, and sealing it.
Depending on the damage, a crown may be recommended to cover your tooth after performing root canal therapy.
If your tooth is severely chipped, your dentist may recommend removing the tooth and replacing it with a dental implant. This is the last option and can be considered when little tooth remaining is present for other restorations.
Your dentist will extract the tooth and allow the site to heal which can take weeks or a few months. A temporary crown can be placed on the healing site to prevent adjacent teeth from shifting toward the empty space. After healing is over, your dentist will insert the implant into your gum and cap it with a crown.
Getting an implant can be costly, but it results in a lifetime of stability, improved dental health, and a life-like appearance.
Frequently asked questions
Small chips are mainly repaired with bonding which can cost from $200 to $600. However, depending on how much tooth should be prepared and the extent of damage, your dentist may recommend other methods like veneers or dental crowns. Porcelain veneers can range from $500 to $2,000 in price, and crowns can cost you between $500 and $3,000 per tooth restoration.
Yes, of course. Even if you broke off a small part of your tooth, the damaged area can leave your tooth vulnerable to further fracture, tooth decay, or infection.
Once you lose the enamel covering on your tooth, bacteria may easily penetrate the dentin, the underlying tooth structure. If not treated, bacteria can enter the dental pulp, causing infection, abscess, and eventually the loss of the tooth.