What can I do about my chipped teeth?

A tooth can become chipped for a variety of reasons. An accident, sports injury, congenital defect or teeth grinding (bruxism) can all result in a fractured tooth. Tooth decay can result in a chipped tooth: root canal surgery can cause a tooth to become brittle and break.

A chipped tooth will have sharp, protruding edges, look unsightly and can cause damage to the surrounding tissues.
It is usually the crown that is prone to fracture although the root can be affected. If the root is damaged then there is the risk of damage to the blood vessels and soft tissues which can have serious consequences.

It doesn’t matter how large or small the damage is, or whether it is on the crown and/or root: if the tooth shows signs of a fracture then treatment will be needed. Even if your tooth is only slightly chipped it can cause problems in the long term so please visit your dentist.

If your tooth is chipped then do the following:

  • Wash away any bleeding with cold water.
  • Place a cold compress on the affected area to prevent any further bleeding.
  • If there any bits of tooth lying around then collect these bits and place them in water.
  • Contact your dentist immediately.

Treatment will involve the dentist performing a thorough examination of your mouth to determine the extent of the injury. He or she will take an x-ray of the chipped tooth to see if the fracture has gone into the root or the pulp.

If your tooth is only slightly chipped then your dentist will be able to smooth out the tooth. This only applies if the outer layer of the tooth is affected.

But, if the fracture is more serious and has affected a deeper layer of the tooth (e.g. the dentine) then the risk here is that bacteria can enter the tooth can cause an infection. If this is the case then your dentist will provide a temporary dressing to the tooth before planning further work.

This work can involve the dentist cementing the missing fragment onto your tooth using a bonding agent. Another option is to use a filling material such as a composite resin which can be applied to the tooth. This is used to fill in the missing portion. The dentist will use a blue light to harden this agent.

Other options include porcelain veneers which fit on the front of a damaged tooth or a dental crown. A crown or ‘cap’ as it is more commonly known fits over the top of a tooth and gives it a natural looking appearance.

If more than tooth is affected then follow up sessions may be required.

Visit the cosmetic dentistry guide to chipped teeth for further information.

Common Dental Problems Guide Index:

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