Accidents happen, even to the most careful people. One minute you’re enjoying your day and the next minute you have an unexpected collision with someone else or experience trauma to the mouth and face, or even just from chewing on ice or hard candy. Chipped teeth can happen to anyone, young and old, and it’s best to treat them as soon as possible. Thankfully, there are great solutions for restoring chipped or broken teeth. These methods are so convincing; no one will ever know you ever had a broken tooth at all. In some cases, your replacement tooth may look even better than your original!
So You’ve Chipped Your Tooth…
Don’t panic. These circumstances always seem to arise when it’s least convenient. If you can’t get to a dentist right away, make sure to rinse your mouth out with salt water and take over-the-counter pain medication. Depending on the kind of break or chip, you may or may not feel pain. It’s best to be safe and rinse the area anyway. If the break is particularly sharp and jagged, try to cover it with a piece of wax or sugarless gum to prevent it from cutting your tongue and or cheek. Avoid using that tooth to eat and keep it away from all unnecessary contact.
Contact a Dentist
Even if you don’t go to the dentist regularly, when you have a chipped tooth, it’s essential that you visit one as soon as humanly possible. Untreated chipped teeth can develop nasty infections and can become very painful if a nerve is exposed. The treatment you receive will depend on the severity of the chip, which will have to be evaluated by a dental professional.
If only a small piece of enamel is chipped, the repair can usually be taken care of with one office visit. A more severely chipped tooth will have to go through a more lengthy procedure to restore a complete tooth that is structurally sound.
Dental Filling and Bonding
If your tooth enamel has slightly chipped, the damage can be repaired with a filling, especially if the chip is located on any molars or back teeth. For chips that occur on the front facing teeth that are visible when you smile, your dentist will most likely use the method of bonding. When bonding a chipped tooth, the dentist will etch the surface with a liquid or gel to create texture, making it easier to adhere material to it. Then they will apply an adhesive and tooth-colored resin. The dentist is trained to make this resin appear to look just like a real tooth, so you don’t have to worry about having chicklet-looking teeth after the procedure. Upon creating the shape, they will use an ultraviolet light to harden the material to make it durable.
Dental Cap or Crown
If a larger chip occurs, a different course of treatment has to be taken in order to fix the issue. This also occurs if the chipped tooth already shows signs of advanced decay and is not strong enough on its own to simply be fixed with a bit of bonding. If this is the case, the dentist will file down the tooth and fit it for a cap or crown. These caps not only protect the tooth, but they also improve its appearance.
When it comes to crowns, there are many options: metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic. Each different type boasts a different set of advantages, metal being the strongest. However, porcelain and resin crowns look identical to teeth, which is why they are preferred for chips that are visible when the mouth is open or when smiling.
Sometimes when a tooth suffers force trauma, the root or nerve inside the tooth dies. This is what people sometimes refer to as a “dead tooth.” You may not notice that your nerve has died after the trauma has occurred, especially if your tooth chipped closer to the base. Usually, it takes about a week or two for the tooth to start turning grey in color. This means that the nerve inside the tooth is no longer functioning and needs to be extracted via a root canal. Similarly, when a large part of a tooth is chipped, a root canal also may be necessary. If a crown is placed on a “dead tooth” the remaining root inside the tooth will begin to rot over time and potentially cause it to fall out or become infected.
If your chipped tooth needs a crown and root canal, it can sometimes require three separate dental visits. Most often, crowns can be taken care of in two, however. During the first visit, x-rays are taken to make sure the roots and the surrounding bone around the tooth are intact. Then you are numbed, and any remaining chipped tooth is removed and prepared for the crown. Your dentist will proceed to create an impression using a putty-like substance to make sure that the tooth that is receiving the crown will be fitted properly.
Your impressions will then be sent to a lab where your permanent crown is created, doing their best to color match the new crown to match the rest of your teeth. During this time you may be fitted with a temporary crown until the lab is finished with your permanent one. About two to three weeks later, your permanent crown will come in, and your dentist will make sure that it fits correctly in your mouth before it’s cemented into place. Some dental offices have special digital milling technology in their offices that can make a crown same-day! If you have a special occasion coming up soon after chipping your tooth, it’s an option for you.
Chipping a tooth can be a traumatic ordeal, but with modern dentistry, it’s completely fixable. Crowns and bonding methods are able to make fixing chipped, or broken teeth look exactly like your other real teeth. Just make sure you do not leave a chipped tooth be; be sure to seek out a dentist to take care of it straight away to prevent painful and dangerous infection.