Maybe you bit down on something too hard, teeth grinding, experienced a sports injury, or have a decaying tooth. Whichever the reason, a chipped tooth can be uncomfortable or painful and potentially not cosmetically pleasing. This article will discuss if you need treatment at a dentist’s office, how to maintain the tooth at home, and how dentists fix chipped teeth.
You can chip a tooth by chewing on hard foods, teeth grinding (bruxism), tooth decay, and mouth injury (such as a sports injury).
Emergency dental care for chipped teeth is most often not needed unless it is causing significant pain or is about to fall out.
A chipped tooth is different from a cracked or broken tooth, which is more serious.
Even though chipped teeth are not an emergency, it’s always best to follow up with a dentist to ensure the damage is not worse than you thought.
There are no permanent at-home fixes to a chipped tooth.
Temporary store-bought solutions are available such as dental wax to prevent you from hurting the inside of your mouth or tongue with the chipped tooth’s jagged edge.
For a quick fix, use paraffin wax or chewing gum on the sharp edge of your tooth
OTC medication such as ibuprofen (Advil) can help manage pain and swelling.
Avoid hard, acidic, sugary, hot, and cold foods to prevent further damage and increase tooth sensitivity.
Gargle with salt water to reduce pain and likelihood of infection
A dentist can use a filling or bonding to fix the appearance and jagged nature of a small chip in your tooth.
If the chip is cosmetic and affects your smile, a dentist can install a dental veneer
If the chip is more severe, your dentist may suggest getting a dental crown.
What is a chipped tooth, and why can it be painful?
A chipped tooth occurs when a part of your enamel, the outermost & hardest layer of your teeth, chips off. This can leave a jagged edge that may hurt your gums when you bite, or it may cause significant tooth pain. The severity of your chipped tooth determines how it will be treated. The main symptoms of a chipped tooth are feeling something jagged in your mouth when biting or chewing (if it is not visible) and teeth sensitivity.
While your enamel is the hardest material in your body, it is not invincible. Your teeth are at the frontline of everything you eat, drink, or chew and are susceptible to damage through decay and injury. Chewing on a piece of ice, for example, or using your teeth as a tool can cause a chipped tooth.
In many cases, your chipped tooth is minor and won’t cause any pain. However, in some circumstances, the broken enamel will expose your dentin or even the pulp of your tooth, where nerves are exposed to the elements, and extreme sensitivity can follow. In addition, if the chip is due to an already weakened tooth, potentially a cavity, or tooth decay, you may experience more pain due to infection.
Do I need to see a dentist for a chipped tooth?
It’s normal to feel panicked when you chip a tooth and want to get it fixed right away. However, if your tooth is not at risk of falling out or causing significant pain, it’s likely not an emergency. Your best option is to call your dentist’s office to speak with the staff to determine just how urgent it is that you need an appointment.
With that being said, it is always recommended to book a dentist appointment to make sure that your chipped tooth’s damage is not worse than the eye can see, which can lead to further injury and pain.
Chipping a tooth is different from a cracked or broken tooth. Cracked teeth or broken teeth most often occur closer to your gum line and are deeper, putting you at risk of exposing the root of your tooth. There are also “craze lines,” which are small cracks in your enamel and are very common.
How to fix a chipped tooth at home
While there is no permanent fix for a chipped tooth at home, there are some temporary solutions.
If your chipped tooth is sharp or has a rough edge, you can go to the pharmacy and purchase a temporary tooth repair kit or dental wax. Dental wax will allow you to cover up the sharp edges and harden so you can eat on them.
This solution will not be permanent, and you can expect it to fall out after a period of time. In addition, placing dental wax over it can put you at risk of infection or further damage in cases where the chip is related to a cavity or decay.
Wax Paraffin or Sugarless Chewing Gum
If dental wax is not an option and you need something more immediate, try covering your tooth with wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum to prevent your chipped tooth from cutting the side of your mouth or your tongue.
Avoid hard foods
Try your best to avoid eating any hard foods or chewing using the chipped tooth to prevent further damage.
Pain relief for a chipped tooth
If you are experiencing pain in your chipped tooth, can you opt to take an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil) to reduce pain and reduce swelling if applicable.
If you’re experiencing sensitive teeth, there isn’t much you can do other than avoid acidic, sugary, hot, and cold foods or drinks, which will agitate your tooth even more.
Gargling with warm salt water can ease pain and help prevent infection.
How does a dentist fix a chipped tooth?
Dentists can fix chipped teeth in various ways, depending on the severity of the chip.
When the chip is small & only affects the enamel…
a filling may be a good option and an easy fix. However, if it affects the appearance of a smile, a dentist can use bonding to repair the chipped tooth.
Bonding typically does not require numbing. Instead, your dentist will lightly abrase your tooth, allowing the tooth-colored composite resin to adhere. A UV light is then used to harden the resin.
When you’re looking for a cosmetic fix for your chipped tooth…
getting a dental veneer can be an excellent option to restore your smile. A thin shell of tooth-colored porcelain or composite resin material that resembles your tooth will adhere to your remaining tooth.
It’s important to remember that while veneers are irreversible, they are not permanent, meaning eventually, you will need to get your veneer replaced. Luckily, they can last upwards of 20 years if taken care of.
When the chip is bigger or has decay…
your dentist may reduce the size of your tooth and grind it down to fit a permanent crown over it. Many dentists now offer same-day crowns, sometimes called CEREC crowns, so that you don’t have to come back to the office a few weeks later to finish the process.
This potential one-office visit will improve the appearance of your tooth and protect it. A crown can be metal, porcelain, and resin, although most often porcelain. Porcelain and resin crowns mimic the appearance of your original teeth.
Dental Care for a Chipped Tooth in Scranton, PA
If you have chipped your tooth and would like to speak to a dentist in the Northeast PA, Scranton area, Dr. Charles Dennis & his team are available to consult with you. For severe teeth, injury, such as a severely chipped tooth, cracked tooth, or broken tooth, Abington Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry also offers dental urgent care. Call the office at (570) 587-4031 today.