In the movies, a simple pratfall usually gets a big laugh, and a resulting chipped tooth can have the audience rolling in the aisles. But in real life, a chipped tooth due to trauma is no laughing matter. Besides possible pain and damage, a chipped tooth can cause a lot of embarrassment.
If you have a chipped tooth, you're not alone! In fact, chipped teeth are the most common dental injury today. While a chipped tooth can range in terms of size and damage, any type of dental trauma deserves immediate attention. Although a small chip will most likely not cause pain, you should contact a dentist to make sure there is no other damage to the tooth's structure. A dentist will be able to rule out accompanying cracks or internal dental problems when examining your chipped tooth.
More significant damage should definitely not be ignored! A broken tooth may result in an exposed nerve, which can cause a great deal of pain. A completely knocked-out tooth can actually be saved if you act quickly. Regardless of your dental emergency, contact an emergency dentist right away.
Your Treatment Options
Chipped tooth treatments vary according to the amount of damage. There are many procedures now available to correct chipped teeth, and many of them can be performed in just one dental visit. Depending on your situation, any one of these chipped tooth treatments may be an option for you:
Dental Bonding -- Most chips can be corrected with dental bonding. During this dental treatment, your dentist will fill the area with a tooth-colored composite resin material and structure it to match the shape of your tooth. Next, your dentist will cure the tooth filling with a light to harden the material, and your tooth will look as good as new. Dental bonding is an efficient, durable and cost-effective way to correct minor dental imperfections.
Enamel Shaping -- Often used in conjunction with dental bonding, enamel shaping can also correct small chips or surface flaws. During enamel shaping, a small portion of the tooth's surface is removed or recontoured to smooth out imperfections.
Dental Veneers -- When the damage is significant and dental bonding or enamel shaping can't be used, you may need veneers. These thin, porcelain wafers completely cover the surface of the tooth and are often used for front teeth.
Root Canal -- Experiencing pain in the location of the chipped tooth can be a sign that the nerve is exposed. If that's the case, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
Dental Crown -- A dental crown is used to completely cover larger teeth or to cap a tooth after a root canal.
Tooth Extraction -- If the tooth can't be saved, a tooth extraction may be necessary. The good news is a dental bridge or dental implants can replace missing teeth.
Chipped teeth are often the result of trauma. But you can also chip your teeth on food or other hard objects. Here's how to protect your teeth from harm:
Mouthguards -- If you play sports, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth. Your dentist can make a custom-fit mouthguard that's comfortable to wear. A night guard can also protect your mouth from bruxism.
Diet -- Avoiding hard and sticky foods will help reduce the possibility of a chipped tooth. Also, don't chew on pencils or open things with your teeth.
Oral Hygiene -- Practice excellent oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly to keep your dental health in check. The healthier your teeth are the less susceptible they'll be to damage.