When people tell they have a Chipped tooth in their mouth, they are simply referring to a tooth which is broken.
You may end up with a broken tooth in your mouth due to various reasons. The most common causes of a chipped tooth are external trauma and injury to the tooth enamel while biting or chewing on hard food items.
Although the enamel that covers the tooth is the most mineralized structure in the human body, it has limited strength.
A tooth can also break on applying slight pressure if it is affected by tooth decay from the inside.
Tooth chipping can also result because of the teeth grinding habit in the night, otherwise known as bruxism.
What To Do If You Have a Chipped Tooth?
Treating a chipped tooth at home isn’t possible. You need to visit your dentist ASAP.
However, while you are waiting for the appointment from your dentist, you can take a few steps to make sure that the condition of the tooth doesn’t worsen any further.
Here’s How To Manage a Chipped Tooth at Home
If the chipped tooth is causing pain, you can take an over the counter analgesic to alleviate the pain and discomfort. A rinse with salt water solution can help you prevent infection and reduce inflammation.
Don’t consume hard food items until the broken tooth is fixed. Also, during your regular meal eat using the opposite side of the mouth, if possible. Don’t use the side which has the chipped tooth. Whenever possible go for the soft diet such as soups, smoothies, etc.
People tend to repeatedly touch the broken edges of the tooth, with their tongue. This should be avoided. Brushing your tongue against the roughened edges of the chipped tooth may result in lacerations on the surface of the tongue.
If there is swelling present on the cheek or lip region because of trauma, use a cold pack on the area. This helps reduce the swelling and alleviate the pain.
Sometimes the tooth may have cracks on its surface. This is called a ‘cracked tooth’. The cracks present may be macro cracks or microcracks.
Macrocracks are the ones that are visible to the naked eye and the microcracks are the ones which aren’t visible. In most cases though, the cracks on the teeth go unnoticed.
How To Treat The Chipped Tooth?
The treatment for the chipped tooth depends on the severity or the extent of the damage. A normal tooth has three layers. The outer layer enamel, the second layer dentin, and the innermost layer called pulp.
If only a small part of the enamel is involved in the broken tooth, the dentist may perform a minor repair which usually can be done in a single visit.
But if the second and the third layers of the tooth are involved, more than one visit to the dental clinic may be required.
Rounding Off the Roughened Edges
If only a small part of the tooth enamel layer has chipped off and if there is no other significant damage present the dentist may simply round off the roughened edge of the tooth, using a special bur and rotating handpiece.
This is done only when the appearance and the function of the tooth are not compromised.
If the damage in the chipped tooth is not extensive but is affecting the appearance and the function of the tooth a dental filling may be required.
If the front tooth or the anterior tooth is broken, a tooth-colored filling may be required. Composite restorations are usually the fillings of choice when it comes to the front teeth.
In the case of premolars and molars, if they are broken and if a filling is required, dental amalgam and composites are the two main type of restorative materials used.
Bonding is usually done for the front teeth, for aesthetic purposes.
These procedures are recommended on teeth surfaces where the occlusal load (the teeth surfaces which are not very actively used for biting, chewing and grinding) is minimal.
People often refer to composite restorations as bonding. This, however, may not be right. Because bonding is one of the steps involved during the process of building composite restorations. Bonding itself isn’t the entire process.
When doing the ‘bonding’ procedure the dentist may start the process with minimal tooth preparation followed by a process called ‘etching’.
Etching is done using a gel or a liquid called ‘etchant’ where the tooth surface is roughened to increase the retention of the restoration.
This process is followed by applying a bonding agent and then a tooth-colored filling material. The bonding procedure usually doesn’t require local anesthesia.
Dental crowns may be required when a larger part of the tooth crown (the part of the tooth which is above the gum line) is broken.
By definition, a dental crown is a restoration that covers the coronal part of the tooth.
The dental crowns can be of the following types.
- Full coverage crowns
- Post crowns
- Partial coverage crowns
Dental veneers are facings placed on either the labial (the front surface) or the palatal (the back side)sides of a tooth. These are exclusively done to restore the aesthetic qualities of the chipped tooth.
Root Canal Treatment
When a tooth is broken due to the gross tooth decay, root canal treatment may be mandatory. Root canal treatment is a must in the following conditions.
- When the broken tooth has dental caries extending to the pulp.
- When there is an infection
- When there are sinus formation and pus discharge around the broken tooth.
- When there is a color change in the chipped tooth
If the broken tooth is extensively damaged with maximum tooth structure loss, saving the tooth may not be possible. In such cases, tooth extraction is the only choice.
A dental implant is an artificial tooth root which is placed inside the jaw bones. This artificial tooth root helps in supporting and holding the new replacement tooth or the bridge.
A tooth implant is a great option for anyone who has lost a tooth or teeth due to a variety of reasons like trauma, teeth decay, periodontal diseases, etc.
How To Prevent Chipping of Tooth?
As we have already mentioned earlier, chipping of teeth may be caused due to a variety of reasons. Some causes, however, can’t be controlled or prevented, like in case of trauma or accidents.
Here are some of the instances where chipping of teeth can be prevented.
In Case of Bruxism:
To prevent the wear and tear of teeth in case of bruxism, use a night guard.
In the case of Tooth Decay:
To prevent the breakage of tooth and loss of tooth structure due to dental caries, treating the disease at the initial stage is vital.
If caries extends to the dentin layer and then reaches the pulp, the root canal may be needed. So going for the regular dental check-up, at least once in every six months, is important.
In the case of Sports Injuries and Trauma
Using mouth guards can be a great way to prevent injuries to teeth during contact sports.