Chipped a tooth? Don’t panic – it can be fixed

Chipping a tooth is an awful feeling. It might leave you wanting to hide your mouth or refusing to smile, but it’s more than just a cosmetic concern. A damaged tooth can have painful exposed nerves or cracks that lead to infection. If you’ve chipped your tooth, it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible to have it repaired.

How do I know if I’ve chipped my tooth?

You’ll likely know if you chip a tooth. It can be caused by a forceful blow or accident, playing contact sports without a mouth guard, or even just biting down on something hard. The outer layer of our teeth, called enamel, is very strong but it wears down and weakens over time. If we aren’t careful, it can chip.

If you notice a jagged surface or rough edge in your mouth, it’s likely caused by a chipped tooth. You may also experience irritation in the surrounding area, pain when eating, or increased sensitivity to hot and cold. In some cases, you may also spike a fever or notice swollen glands and bad breath.

What should I do if I’ve chipped a tooth?

We may be able to save the part of your tooth that chipped off. Be careful not to swallow it. If you recover the chipped piece, keep it moist by placing it in a cup of milk, saline solution, or water. In a pinch, tuck it into a piece of sugarless gum.

Gently rinse your mouth with warm water and stop any bleeding by applying steady pressure with a piece of clean gauze. Dental wax, gum, or even a wet tea bag can temporarily protect the chipped tooth in your mouth until you see your dentist.

If you’re in pain, take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen. You can place a cold compress on the outside of your cheek or use clove oil topically on the surrounding gums to lessen your discomfort.

How painful is the treatment?

The treatment for a chipped tooth is usually relatively straightforward, and in any event, it will definitely be better than the alternative. Chipped teeth are weakened, and if you don’t seek dental care, they’re prone to breaking or cracking. This can lead to infections and require more extensive and expensive treatment. 

Sometimes, a chipped tooth can be repaired simply by reattaching the broken piece of tooth. That’s why it’s important to preserve the piece until you see your dentist. If that’s not possible, we may be able to use composite resin or porcelain to recreate the broken fragment. The material is bonded permanently to your remaining tooth, hardened using ultraviolet light, and smoothed into shape. A veneer that covers the chipped section may also be an option.

More significant chips or damage may require a different treatment plan. A dental onlay is often used on molars to effectively cover the chipped area. We might also recommend a crown if too much of the tooth has chipped off. If your tooth has been damaged beyond repair, it may be necessary to remove it entirely, and an implant or bridge can fill the space.

We’ll make your visit as comfortable as possible and use numbing agents to ensure that you don’t experience anything more than mild discomfort during your treatment. If you’re particularly anxious about having a chip repaired, talk to us about how we can help make you feel more comfortable.

How can I avoid chipping a tooth?

Unfortunately, chipped teeth happen. Though enamel is very strong, it weakens with age and wear, meaning that people over age 50 are increasingly likely to chip their teeth.

Make sure you visit us regularly for professional cleaning and dental care. We can help you avoid risk factors like having untreated decay or cavities. If you grind your teeth or play contact sports, we can fit you for a protective mouth guard. 

Other risk factors include consuming a lot of acidic foods like coffee or juice that wear down enamel, or acid reflux that introduces stomach acid into your mouth. Excessive vomiting, such as that caused by an eating or alcohol disorder, can also weaken your teeth.

Don’t panic - we can help

If you’ve chipped a tooth, Smiles on 34th can help restore your smile to perfection. Come see us as soon as you can to prevent further damage to your tooth or the beginning of an infection. A chipped tooth is an unfortunate occurrence, but having it fixed is usually easy and painless.