A chipped tooth can happen to anyone at any time. Whether it’s from a fall, an accident, or simply biting down on something too hard, it’s a painful and sometimes embarrassing occurrence. Being in this situation can lead to many questions. That’s why in this article, we’ll explore what you need to know about having a chipped tooth, what to look out for, and what you can do about it.
Causes of a Chipped Tooth
Various factors, including the following can cause a chipped tooth:
- Trauma: A blow to the face or mouth is one of the most common causes of a chipped tooth. This can happen during contact sports, accidents, or falls.
- Biting on hard objects: This can include ice, popcorn kernels, hard candy, pens and pencils, or any other items.
- Tooth decay: Decay weakens the tooth structure, making it more susceptible to chips and fractures.
- Teeth grinding: Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, can cause excessive wear and tear on your teeth, leading to accidental damage.
What Happens When a Tooth is Chipped?
When a tooth chips, the physical structure is altered. This can range from a minor situation that only affects the outer layer of your enamel to something more severe that exposes the inner layers:
- Enamel (outer layer) chip: If only the outer layer gets chipped, your tooth may feel sensitive or rough to the touch.
- Inner layer chip: The inner layers of your tooth include the dentin and pulp, which contain nerves and blood vessels. If the damage extends beyond the enamel and reaches these underlying nerves, it can cause intense pain and sensitivity.
Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth
The symptoms of a chipped tooth can vary depending on the severity and whether or not it has reached the inner layers. Some common experiences include:
- Sensitivity: This can include sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks.
- Pain: A chipped tooth may cause pain or discomfort, especially when biting or chewing.
- Rough or sharp edges: If the chip is minor and only impacts the outer layer of the enamel, the affected area may feel rough or sharp.
- Visible damage: Depending on the location, your chipped tooth may be noticeable when smiling or talking.
- Swelling: In some cases, you may experience swelling or inflammation in the gums surrounding the affected tooth.
What to do About a Chipped Tooth
Rinse Your Mouth With Salt Water
It’s important to first rinse your mouth, as blood, food debris and other bacteria can linger and cause potential infection. By rinsing your mouth with warm salt water, you will not only reduce the pain from the incident and lower the probability of infection.
If you notice bleeding of any extent from the tooth or mouth, you should immediately apply pressure to the area. Keep in mind that it’s most sanitary to use clean gauze or a cotton pad to do this.
Use Ice or a Cold Compress
If you’re experiencing mouth pain from the chipping, apply ice to the outside of your mouth where you chipped the tooth. This will help relieve any pressure and should reduce swelling and inflammation.
Pain Medication for Severe Pain
If you are still experiencing severe pain after taking these initial steps, take an over-the-counter pain reliever and anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen. Ensure you follow the directions on the label and don’t exceed the recommended dose.
Watch What You Eat
Until you can see your dentist, we recommend eating strictly soft foods or liquids. This will help prevent further chipping as well as keep the pain in your mouth at a low level.
Schedule a Dental Appointment
Even if the chip seems minor, scheduling an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible is essential. They can examine the area and recommend the appropriate treatment based on the severity of the damage to help relieve pain and restore your smile.
Repair Options Available for a Chipped Tooth
There are several dental repair options available for a chipped tooth, depending on your unique circumstances. Here are some of the most common options:
This procedure involves applying a tooth-coloured resin to the chipped area and then shaping and polishing it to match the surrounding teeth. Dental bonding is a quick and effective option for repairing minor chips.
Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells that your dentist will bond to the front of your teeth. They can help repair more severe chips by improving the appearance of the affected tooth.
Dental Crowns and Onlays
Dental crowns are custom-made caps that cover the entire tooth to restore its shape, size, and strength. They are often used for larger chips or to protect a weakened tooth from further damage.
Onlays, on the other hand, are partial crowns that can repair your tooth’s biting surface. These will only cover the affected part instead of the entire tooth.
If the damage has exposed the inner layers of your tooth and caused nerve damage or an infection, a root canal may be necessary. This procedure removes the infected or damaged tissue from the tooth and fills it with a material to protect it and restore its strength.
What Happens if I Don’t Repair a Chipped Tooth?
Ignoring a chipped tooth can lead to a range of dental problems, including:
- Tooth sensitivity
- Gum disease
- Cracked tooth syndrome (when the tooth develops tiny cracks that cause pain and sensitivity when biting down)
- Increased risk of further damage
It’s important to get a chipped tooth repaired as soon as possible. Reach out to us at Yazdani Family Dentistry to book an appointment so we can assess the level of damage and recommend an appropriate treatment option.