A tooth can chip for many reasons. Sometimes it is a blow to the mouth but usually the enamel of your tooth has weakened over time leaving it susceptible to damage. A chipped tooth may be caused by:
- Biting down on hard substances (ice, hard candy, bones, fingernails or bottle caps)
- Falls, car accidents, or a blow to the face
- Playing contact sports without a mouth guard
- Grinding your teeth
- Using your teeth to open packages
- Worn enamel due to eating acid-producing foods such as fruit juice, coffee and spicy foods
- Large fillings that weaken the teeth
- Acid reflux or heartburn, brings stomach acid into your mouth and damages enamel
- Eating sugary foods that promote acid-producing bacteria
- Age, your risk of weakened enamel increases as you age
How do I know if I’ve chipped my tooth? (Symptoms)
If the chip is small and not readily visible, you may not know you’ve chipped your tooth! When symptoms do occur they may include:
- Feeling a jagged surface when you run your tongue over your tooth
- Irritation of the gum around the tooth
- Pain when biting down on the tooth
What should I do about my chipped tooth?
Call your dentist! Get your chipped tooth fixed as quickly as you can to ensure it doesn’t cause further problems. Your dentist will recommend a treatment depending on your symptoms and the location and severity of the chip. A minor chip can usually be treated by smoothing and polishing the tooth or with a small filling. If a larger fragment breaks off, save the chip in damp gauze or a plastic bag with a bit of water. Your dentist may be able to reattach the piece. If the fragment cannot be reattached, bonding is an option. A composite resin or porcelain is cemented to the surface of your tooth and shaped to its form. If the chip poses a cosmetic problem, you might choose a veneer, a thin cover that bonds to the front of your tooth. When a substantial portion of your tooth is lost, you may need a dental crown, a tooth-shaped cap made to protect the tooth and improve its appearance. A root canal is needed if the broken tooth exposes the root making it susceptible to infection.
What do I do while waiting for my dental appointment?
No need to suffer! There are things you can do to reduce injury and discomfort while you wait for your dentist appointment.
- Cover a jagged tooth with a teabag, sugar-free gum or dental wax to protect your gums and tongue
- Take an anti-inflammatory painkiller and rinse your mouth with warm salt water
- Use an ice pack on the outside of your cheek
- Eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the broken tooth
- Numb painful gums with clove oil
A chipped tooth is a common dental injury. It can be successfully treated using a variety of dental procedures. If you have broken or chipped a tooth, don’t panic! Call your dentist to discuss treatment options. They will help you preserve the look of your smile!
If you have a chipped tooth and wish to discuss treatment options, call Centennial Smiles at 587-353-5060.