I Chipped My Tooth; What Do I Do?



If your body's tissues were going toe-to-toe in a power competition, the enamel that covers your teeth would take top honors. However, despite its enormous strength, there are limits to what tooth enamel can do. Although you might think otherwise, it cannot prevent your teeth from chipping, cracking or breaking under stress. While it normally takes a hefty blow to cause this sort of damage, some teeth will suffer the same fate when subjected to such seemingly innocuous habits as nail biting or pencil chewing.

Although anyone's teeth can suffer this fate, those already weakened through decay or erosion are the ones most likely to be at risk. The potential types of damage will include:

  • Cracked or crazed enamel. Often shallow and painless, this least-serious type of injury may do well with nothing more than a quick polishing to even out the tooth surface.
  • A small chip. It may look unsightly, but unless it is causing you pain, a negligibly chipped tooth may not require immediate professional treatment. Nevertheless, it's best to have a dentist check it out.
  • A crack. When it comes to your teeth, a simple chip has nothing on a crack or fracture. This sort of injury will often extend through the enamel all the way to the nerve. It can only worsen with time, and without immediate dental treatment, the tooth could split in two and become unsalvageable.
  • A break. A broken tooth is likely to hurt, particularly when the fracture has exposed the nerve. This will require immediate professional treatment.

If you have cracked or broken a tooth, the damage may be hard to see. What's less easy to ignore, however, will be the associated pain. Teeth that have suffered in this manner have no way of repairing themselves. A trip to the dentist is imperative.

While you are waiting to get there, though, there are a few things you can do. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water may help to relieve the pain. In addition, if the edge of the broken tooth is causing discomfort, you can cover it with a piece of soft paraffin or sugar-free chewing gum to protect your tongue and the inside of your mouth. Eat only soft foods for the time being and avoid chewing in the region of the affected tooth.

What Your Dentist Can Do for Your Cracked or Broken Tooth

If the crack in your tooth is sufficiently minor, your dentist may need to do nothing more than fill or bond it, using a tooth-colored resin if necessary for cosmetic reasons. The procedure consists of roughening up the tooth surface, adding adhesive and applying composite resin. After shaping the bonding material to match your natural teeth, the dentist will harden it with ultraviolet light. It is a simple procedure that rarely requires the assistance of Novocain.

On the other hand, if the damage to your tooth has reached the pulp, you are likely to experience swelling, sensitivity or pain. A crack or break this severe will normally require root canal treatment. This consists of removing the tooth's nerve and all decaying material, cleaning the canal, sealing it and topping everything off with a crown if needed. Root canal treatment can prevent the spread of infection and allow the tooth to be saved.

If you have suffered unsightly damage to your front teeth, dental veneers will provide you with an attractive solution. Made of porcelain or composite resin material, a veneer will cover the entire front portion of the tooth and leave you with a beautiful and natural-looking smile. If the tooth has broken off entirely, a post-and-crown repair is another option.

Getting Your Teeth the Help They Need

A broken or fractured tooth can never get better without professional assistance. Fortunately, Dr. James White will be able to resolve the problem in most cases. It is vital, however, that you do not delay. The tooth may be broken, but the chances are good that it can still be saved if you have it taken care of in a hurry.

If you should find yourself in this situation, contact Dr. White's office as soon as you can. He will do whatever is needed on an emergency basis to restore your appearance and save that tooth.