A chipped tooth can happen to anyone. Discover how a cosmetic dentist can restore your smile when disaster strikes.
Do you have a chipped tooth? Don’t worry – it happens often. Even if you brush and floss every day, you could still bite down on something hard and break a front or back tooth. But that doesn’t mean you’ll have to live with a damaged smile forever. There are multiple cosmetic treatments available to repair the tooth and restore your smile. Keep reading to learn how you can fix a chipped tooth.
Why Did Your Tooth Chip?
You have impeccable dental hygiene. You’re the person who brushes their teeth twice a day and always remembers to floss. Even your dentist praises you for clean checkups. But you still end up chipping a tooth—and even worse, it’s a front tooth. Why did this happen to you?
As it turns out, chipped teeth can happen to anyone. And the older you are, the more likely you are to experience one. Here are the top reasons a person may chip, crack, or break a tooth:
- Biting down on a hard substance
- Chewing ice
- Sports injury
- Car accident
- Tooth decay
- Acid reflux
- Weakened enamel
- Compromised immune system
- Certain medications, including chemotherapy
- Eating disorder
While poor dental care increases the risk of chipping a tooth, unpreventable falls and injuries also play a significant role. Even a person’s mental well-being is a factor. In 2020, the ADA Health Policy Institute’s COVID-19 impact poll reported that dentists saw a 53.4% increase in chipped and cracked teeth due to emotional stress.
Instead of beating yourself up over a chipped tooth, it’s time to look for ways to fix it.
Cosmetic Treatments to Fix a Chipped Tooth
After chipping a tooth, a trip to a cosmetic dentist is in order. Innovations in cosmetic dentistry make it possible to restore even the most damaged teeth. While a chipped front tooth may look severe at first glance, there are a variety of cosmetic dental procedures available that may be used to restore your smile:
Dental bonding is a cost-effective and minimally invasive way to repair minor chips. During this treatment, your dentist will apply a tooth-colored composite resin to the chipped tooth. They will shape the material to match the surrounding teeth and use a special light to harden the resin. As the resin hardens, it bonds to the tooth.
Patients prefer bonding because it’s quick and painless. In most instances, the dentist won’t even need to numb the area. While the results after bonding are impressive, they don’t last forever. Most patients will need a follow-up treatment after 3-10 years. Eating hard candies, chewing on ice, or playing contact sports may cause the dental bonding to crack prematurely.
A seemingly benign chip can progress into a more serious situation if left untreated. Sometimes, a deep chip or crack allows bacteria to seep inside the tooth’s pulp chamber. When this happens, the nerve dies. The dentist may try to perform a root canal, but if the tooth is significantly damaged, they may need to extract the tooth.
After losing a tooth, a dental implant is the best way to restore your smile. Replacing a missing tooth right away will prevent the surrounding teeth from shifting. Dental implants will also help prevent bone loss and periodontal disease. To place an implant, your dentist will surgically insert a titanium post into the jawbone. As the site heals, the post permanently fuses in place. The dentist will then secure a crown or bridge to the top of the post to fill in the gap.
A crown is a permanent restoration option. It covers the entire tooth and provides extra support and protection. Most dental crowns are porcelain, metal, or a mix; however, dentists recommend all-porcelain caps for front teeth. Preparation requires grinding the affected tooth down to a tiny nub to support the crown.
Getting a crown was once a multi-step process that took weeks to complete. But some modern dental clinics like Larry Saylor Dentistry in Brandon, FL can now prepare and place a crown in a single appointment. Computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing make it possible to speed up the turnaround time. Same-day crowns are more convenient, and most patients experience less discomfort overall.
Porcelain veneers are another type of permanent dental restoration. This unique treatment only covers the front side of a damaged tooth. Most veneers are porcelain, and it’s possible to match the color to your natural teeth. Tooth preparation is also necessary to place a veneer. But unlike crowns, the dentist will only need to remove the outermost layer of enamel. It’s a minimally invasive procedure, and veneers deliver lasting results.
Once cemented in place, veneers are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth. They can easily conceal small or medium-sized chips. With proper care, patients can expect their porcelain veneers to look great for at least ten years. Some even last up to 20 years! Those looking for a thinner, fast option may want to consider Lumineers or DURAthin. These ultra-thin solutions require little to no tooth preparation before placing the veneer.
Front Teeth Crowns vs. Veneers
You chipped or cracked your front tooth and want to repair your smile. Both crowns and veneers seem like viable options. After all, they are both restoration procedures used to fix damaged teeth. But which of these cosmetic dentistry treatments is best for you? Here’s how you can decide between these two popular treatments:
Crowns for Front Teeth
Dentists often recommend crowns for severely damaged or broken teeth. Unlike other restoration options, a crown will protect the tooth’s root while adding structural support. Dentists almost always order this treatment following a root canal, but some may also use crowns to fix cracked front teeth.
Veneers for Front Teeth
Veneers are an excellent restoration choice if most of the front tooth is still intact and healthy. This procedure can repair minimally chipped teeth. Front teeth veneers are also an effective way to correct discoloration or gaps. And since the material is extremely thin, it won’t affect a patient’s speech or chewing.
Both crowns and veneers can help fix a chipped tooth. But depending on the extent of the damage, the dentist may recommend one treatment over another. If the tooth is still in pretty good condition, a veneer may be all that’s needed. However, a deep chip or crack usually calls for a dental crown.
Tell-Tale Signs of a Cracked Tooth
A chipped tooth is one of the easiest dental problems to diagnose. Most patients can feel when a piece of their tooth breaks loose, and a quick glance in the mirror will confirm their suspicions.
Luckily, most chipped teeth are nothing more than a minor cosmetic annoyance. A slightly broken tooth may affect your self-esteem, but it usually won’t harm your oral health. However, cracked teeth are a much more serious problem.
Unlike chips that begin at the outermost edge of a tooth, cracks often start near the gum line. If left untreated, a cracked tooth can actually harm the root. When this happens, extraction is almost always required. That’s why early treatment is a must. Be on the lookout for these cracked tooth symptoms:
- Pain when chewing
- Increased temperature sensitivity
- Acute pain that comes and goes
- Gum inflammation around the affected tooth
- Pain without visible damage
Only a dentist can confirm whether you have a chipped or cracked tooth. They will perform a series of tests, including a visual exam, bite test, and percussion test. Your dentist will also order a series of x-rays. Interestingly, fractures don’t always show up on x-rays, but they will reveal any damage to the tooth’s pulp.
If a dentist suspects a fractured tooth, they will recommend treatment to prevent further damage. Cracked tooth repair is similar to fixing a chipped tooth. Crowns are usually the preferred option. However, if the crack extends to the root, the dentist will likely perform a root canal before placing a crown. In the worst-case scenarios, extraction may be the only choice. But today, dentists can save most cracked teeth thanks to modern dentistry.
Caring for a Chipped or Cracked Tooth at Home
Right after chipping a tooth, scheduling an appointment with your dentist should be on the top of your to-do list. Waiting too long could lead to more damage. And if an infection sets in, you could even end up losing the tooth.
Thankfully, chipped teeth are seldom a dental emergency. Even if it takes a few days to see your dentist, the odds are in your favor that nothing else will go wrong. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t feel some minor discomfort before getting it fixed. These tips will help reduce the risk of further damage while you wait for your appointment:
Rinse your mouth with warm saltwater.
Bacteria is opportunistic and thrives inside hot, damp places. Your mouth is the perfect environment for these harmful pathogens to reproduce. Regularly rinsing your mouth with salt water will help kill any germs lurking inside. Salt has antibacterial properties. It’s also a well-known antiviral and antifungal.
Reduce cracked tooth pain with an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Depending on the extent of the damage, a broken tooth may be painful. In most instances, the pain will come and go. But you can still treat it using an NSAID pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, naproxen, or acetaminophen. The Journal of the American Dental Association reported that patients had more favorable outcomes when treating acute oral pain with NSAIDs.
Switch to a soft food diet.
There’s a good chance eating something hard broke your tooth in the first place. It only makes sense to go on a soft food diet until you can repair it. Besides, biting down may aggravate a fractured tooth. What can you safely eat? Swap out hard, crunchy, or overly chewy foods for soups, mashed potatoes, oatmeal, or soft fruits.
Cover all jagged edges.
Most chipped teeth don’t break off cleanly. Instead, the break leaves behind rough, jagged edges. Cover any sharp spots with dental wax or sugar-free gum to prevent cutting your tongue, lip, or cheek.
Save any broken pieces.
Sometimes after a large break, it’s possible to find the broken pieces of your tooth. If you do, wrap the pieces in a bit of wet gauze. You can even soak them in milk. Remember to bring the salvaged pieces to your dentist appointment. In some instances, they may be able to reattach the fragments to the chipped tooth.
Stop any bleeding.
It’s common for a tooth or gum tissue to bleed following a facial injury. Apply pressure with a cold, wet compress to stop the bleeding and reduce any swelling. If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a few minutes, you may need stitches.
How to Prevent Chipped Teeth
Although a skilled cosmetic can restore any smile, it’s still wise to do whatever you can to prevent chipped teeth in the first place. Try these helpful suggestions:
- Brush twice a day or after meals.
- Floss every day.
- Visit the dentist annually for a checkup.
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sports.
- Reduce stress to prevent teeth clenching.
- Sleep with a nightguard to stop bruxism.
- Avoid overly hard foods and never chew ice.
- Stop smoking.
- Seek medical help for an untreated eating disorder.
Regular dental care is the best way to catch problems before they get out of hand. During an annual exam, your dentist will look for signs of gum disease or cavities. Treating any issues in the early stages will help ensure your teeth stay strong and healthy for years to come.
Chipped Tooth Got You Down? Let Us Restore Your Smile Today.
Even with the best intentions, it’s not always possible to prevent a chipped tooth entirely. A sudden injury or accident may leave you with a jagged front tooth, and eating the wrong foods could damage a molar. Good thing there are plenty of proven cosmetic procedures to restore your smile.
Fixing a cracked tooth is just another day on the job for Dr. Saylor. Our dental clinic offers a wide range of cosmetic treatments to transform your broken teeth into the smile of your dreams. During your appointment, Dr. Saylor will examine your chipped tooth and offer viable treatment options. With over 25 years of experience as a cosmetic dentist, there isn’t a smile our team can’t repair!
Dealing with a broken front tooth or cracked molar? Connect with Dr. Saylor to learn how to fix your chipped tooth and restore your beautiful smile.