Your teeth are covered in enamel, the hardest most mineralized tissue in your body.1 But sometimes, accidents, injuries or just crunching down on a hard food item can chip a tooth. In addition, cavities and poor oral hygiene can also weaken teeth, making them easier to chip, as can teeth grinding. With the advances in dentistry, chipped teeth can usually be fixed painlessly and effectively.
If your tooth is chipped or fractured the first thing to do is make an appointment to see your dentist.
This is not a situation where waiting will improve the outcome of your tooth repair. Chipped teeth can become infected, and continually chewing on a chipped tooth can cause it to deteriorate further, requiring more extensive treatment. Until your dental appointment, eat only soft foods and chew on the opposite side of the chipped tooth. If the tooth is causing pain, take an over the counter pain reliever such as acetaminophen.
If you are fortunate enough to have the missing part of the tooth, make sure your dentist is aware of this, as in some cases it can be reattached. Place the tooth in a clean plastic bag with a few drops of water or saliva.2 Some dentists recommend placing the tooth in a glass of milk to keep it moist.3
Salt Water Rinse
Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water is also effective in cleaning debris from your mouth that might irritate the tooth and in promoting healing. Salt temporarily increases the pH balance in your mouth, creating an alkaline environment in which bacteria struggle to survive.4 Salt water also contains the same minerals our bodies have in equal concentrations so it doesn’t irritate the mucous membranes as mouthwash might.5 To make a salt water rinse, simply add one-half teaspoon of salt to a cup of warm water. Use the rinse every 3-4 hours. If the tooth has a sharp jagged edge, use the salt water rinse to remove any debris and then cover the tooth with dental cement, which is available at most drug stores.6
What Can the Dentist Do?
The simplest treatment for a chipped tooth is for a dentist to smooth and polish the chipped tooth. This can be done for most small chips. If the chip is larger, a dentist will place a filling or a crown (or cap) over the chipped tooth. If the chip is on a front tooth, the dentist may choose to use a resin to match your tooth color. To do so, they perform a procedure called bonding, where the surface of the tooth is roughened and then an adhesive and the resin are applied to look like the natural tooth surface. An ultraviolet light is then used to harden the resin.
Dental veneers are also an option for front teeth that are broken or chipped. 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.7 It is similar to a false nail covering a fingernail.
If the chip is large, and the nerve of the tooth is exposed, the repair will require more extensive treatment. This treatment may include a root canal procedure to remove the damaged nerve, in addition to a crown which will restore the integrity of the tooth. An indication that the nerve may be affected is tooth pain and sensitivity while chewing or when drinking or eating hot or cold foods and beverages.
That’s why any time your teeth start becoming sensitive or causing pain, it is important to see your dentist right away to determine the cause. Doing so can often prevent further tooth damage and more extensive treatment.
Keep your teeth and mouth in check with a visit to the dentist. Our Walled Lake Dental Office is a full-service dental clinic that addresses all your dental health needs. Dr. Hechtman has over 40 years of success and experience in dental treatments and cosmetic dentistry that restore smiles.
Call today for a Free dental evaluation to go over your options so that you make the best choice possible for your oral health and smile!
1, 7 Repairing a Chipped or Broken Tooth, webmd.com
2 Handling Dental Emergencies: Chipped or fractured tooth, www.deltadentalins.com
3 Chipped Tooth, www.healthline.com, by Donna Christiano, 10/19/2017
4,5 How Salt Water Rinse Benefits Oral Heatlh, www.colgate.com, by Tracey Sandilands
6 Chipped or Cracked Tooth Causes and Repair, www.crest.com