What a great shopping trip! You brought home some new clothes, but instead of finding a pair of scissors, you bit off the tag with your front teeth. Crack! There went a chip from one of your teeth.
Later that night, you were eating popcorn and watching a movie. You bit into an unpopped kernel and—crack! There goes a chip from one of your back teeth. Now what?
Know what kind of chipped or cracked tooth you have
- A chipped tooth is not just a chipped tooth. There are actually five types of chipped or cracked teeth. Craze lines are tiny cracks in the outside enamel of your tooth. They are common in adult teeth and do not cause pain.
- A fractured cusp is when part of the chewing surface of your tooth breaks off. This often occurs around fillings. A fractured cusp rarely causes pain and can be fixed by replacing the filling and adding a crown.
- With a cracked tooth, a crack extends from the chewing surface and toward the root. The danger with a cracked tooth is that the crack can continue to grow. If it reaches your gum line, the tooth is no longer treatable and must be replaced. If the crack has not reached the gum line, it can be treated with a root canal followed by a crown.
- A split tooth usually occurs when a cracked tooth has been left for too long. A split tooth has two distinct segments and cannot be saved intact. Sometimes, however, part of the tooth can be saved.
- A vertical root fracture is the opposite of a split tooth because the crack begins in the root and extends toward the chewing surface. Vertical root fractures can go unnoticed for a long time and are often only detected when the surrounding bone or gum becomes infected. Often the entire tooth needs to be extracted, although it might be possible to remove only part of the tooth.
Immediate care for a chipped tooth
While you want to get to your dentist soon after chipping your tooth, there are three things you can do immediately.
- Rinse your mouth with warm water
- Apply pressure or press with gauze if there is any bleeding
- Cover the chipped tooth with temporary dental filling material, and get to your dentist quickly
Don’t fix your chipped tooth yourself
If you’re wondering how to fix a chipped tooth, you have options. While there are some so-called home remedies, your best option—by far—is to go to your dentist as soon as possible. Just like you wouldn’t try cutting your own hair at home and expect a professional result, you certainly would not try fixing your own teeth.
Why you should fix your chipped tooth quickly
Have your chipped or cracked tooth fixed quickly to avoid further damage or even infection. Also, a chipped tooth can make it more difficult for your tooth to work properly. There is also the added concern of how it looks. We all want a beautiful set of teeth.
If the chip exposes nerves in the inner layer of the tooth, you now have the added issue of pain. A chipped tooth can cause sensitivity or it can cause excruciating pain, depending on how much the nerves are exposed. Sometimes, this sensitivity or pain is how you find out you have a chipped tooth.
5 ways to avoid a chipped tooth
- Using your teeth as a tool can cause a chipped tooth. Avoid biting off plastic tags, ripping tape, or anything that is better off done with a pair of scissors or a knife.
- Avoid chewing on exceptionally hard items such as popcorn kernels or ice.
- Don’t get a tongue piercing! Metal tongue barbells are one of the most common causes of a chipped front tooth.
- If you or your children are involved in sports, always wear a mouthguard. Not only can you avoid a chipped tooth, you can avoid losing your tooth altogether.
- Stay relaxed. Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth can lead to a chipped tooth.
5 procedures to fix a chipped or cracked tooth
- Dental or tooth bonding involves applying a resin (hard plastic) to your tooth to repair cosmetic damage. Dental bonding can last for many years and does not need anesthesia.
- Veneers are covers applied to the front of your tooth. Veneers can also be made of resin, but porcelain veneers resist stains better. Veneers can last as long as 30 years.
- A crown is a strong cover that protects the tooth. It is one of the most common methods of repair.
- A root canal involves removing infected or decayed parts of your tooth. Root canals can be painless, despite their bad reputation. A root canal can save your tooth and prevent further infection.
- A dental implant is used when a tooth needs to be replaced. With a dental implant, titanium screws are surgically implanted into your jawbone to replace the root. After your bone fuses with the metal, a crown is attached to the screws.
Have a chipped tooth? Main Street Dental Clinics has offices in Rochester, MN; Owatonna, MN; Mankato, MN; Blooming Prairie, MN; and New Richland, MN. If you have a chipped tooth and are wondering what your options are, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.