How to Fix a Chipped Tooth?

Preventing Chipped Teeth in The Future

April 14, 2024 Written By: Joyce Kahng, DDS

Whether it happened during a backyard basketball game or from biting into a surprisingly hard olive pit, a chipped tooth can be both frustrating and potentially worrisome.

Don’t panic if you have a chipped tooth, though. When it comes to a chipped tooth, there are often a variety of ways to address it.

Below is information about how to assess the damage, what your dentist can do, and how to prevent future chips from ruining your day.

Assessing the Damage

Not all chips are created equal, so let’s take a closer look:

  • Small chip: This is a minor cosmetic imperfection on the surface of your tooth. There’s likely no pain, and it’s mainly an aesthetic concern.
  • Moderate chip: A chunk is missing, and you can definitely feel it with your tongue. There might be some sensitivity, especially to cold or hot foods and drinks.
  • Large chip: A significant part of the tooth is gone. This can be seriously painful, especially if the sensitive inner part of the tooth (the nerve) is exposed.

Even if your chip seems tiny, it’s crucial to get it checked out. Sometimes, cracks can extend further into the tooth than you realize, weakening it over time. Your dentist has the tools and expertise to diagnose the full extent of the damage and recommend the best course of action.

Treatment Options (Based on Severity)

Your dentist will recommend the best treatment based on how big the chip is, where it’s located, and any underlying issues. With that said, here’s a breakdown of common solutions:

  • Dental Bonding: With dental bonding, your dentist uses a tooth-colored composite resin and shapes it to fill in the chip, restoring a natural look. Bonding is great for small to moderate chips, especially on front teeth. It’s a quick fix, often done in one visit, and relatively budget-friendly. The results look very natural, but keep in mind that the resin can stain over time and isn’t the strongest solution for large chips or back teeth that handle a lot of chewing force.
  • Dental Veneers: Imagine a beautiful, super-thin shell custom-made to cover the front of your tooth. That’s a veneer. They’re excellent for moderate to larger chips, especially those that affect the appearance of your smile. Veneers look incredibly natural, resist staining, and are a long-lasting solution. However, they are more expensive than bonding, and your dentist needs to remove some tooth enamel to place them.
  • Dental Crowns: Think of this as a cap that completely covers your damaged tooth. Crowns are the go-to for very large chips, broken teeth, or if your tooth has been weakened by decay. They are super strong, durable, and protect the remaining healthy tooth structure. The downside is that they are the most expensive option, and the procedure usually requires multiple appointments.

Important Note: These are general descriptions—your dentist is the best person to explain exactly how each treatment works and determine which one is the perfect fit for your tooth (and your wallet).

What to Expect at the Dentist

Are you wondering what actually happens when you get a chipped tooth fixed? Here’s the general process:

First, your dentist will give your chipped tooth a thorough examination. They may even take X-rays to get a complete picture of what’s going on beneath the surface. Once they understand the severity of the damage, they’ll walk you through your options, answering all your questions about the procedures and the associated costs.

The specific steps depend on what treatment you choose. Bonding is usually the quickest. Your dentist prepares the tooth surface and applies the resin, shaping it perfectly, then a special light hardens it in place. Veneers usually take two appointments. First, your dentist prepares your tooth and takes an impression (mold) to create your custom veneer, and then in the second visit, they’ll bond it to your tooth. Crowns are similar to veneers, usually requiring two visits for preparation, impression-taking, and then final placement.

Your dentist will give you specific aftercare instructions tailored to your chosen treatment. This might include things like temporarily avoiding certain foods, how to manage any sensitivity, and when to follow up. It’s important to listen carefully to ensure your tooth heals properly and your new restoration lasts.

Preventing Chipped Teeth in The Future

While fixing a chipped tooth is possible, prevention is always the best medicine. Here are some tips to keep those pearly whites intact:

  • Wear a mouthguard: If you play contact sports, a mouthguard is essential. It cushions your teeth from unexpected blows.
  • Mind what you chew on: Be extra careful with hard foods like ice, popcorn kernels, or hard candies. Consider safer alternatives or cut hard foods into smaller pieces.
  • Break the bad habits: Avoid chewing on non-food items like pens or fingernails and avoid opening things with your teeth. This puts unnecessary stress on your teeth.
  • Address teeth grinding: If you grind or clench your teeth (especially at night), talk to your dentist. They might recommend a custom nightguard to protect your enamel.
  • Don’t skip checkups: Regular dental visits let your dentist catch any potential weak spots in your teeth before they turn into chips or breaks. Think of it as preventative maintenance for your smile.

Don’t Stress, Your Smile Can Be Fixed

It’s important to remember that a chipped tooth may not just be a cosmetic issue. Seeking prompt dental care will help prevent further damage and sensitivity. Luckily, modern dentistry offers various ways to restore form and function to your smile.

By practicing good habits and seeing your dentist regularly for checkups, you can significantly reduce your risk of future chips. Remember, a healthy and confident smile is always within reach.

Smile Smarter,
Dr. Joyce

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