How to Handle a Damaged or Chipped Tooth: Tips, Information & FAQ's
Did You Know That Chipped Teeth are the Most Common of all Dental Injuries?
I Have a Chipped Tooth, Should I See a Dentist?
You should see a dentist right away to make sure that you don't damage your tooth further and to see if you have damaged a nerve or a blood vessel that could become infected. If you can't get to a dentist's office right away, here are some things that you should consider doing until you get there...rinse off and save the loose pieces if you can find them; rinse your mouth with a mild salt-water solution; if the break has a sharp edge, cover it with a piece of sugarless chewing gum to keep it from cutting the inside of your lip or cheek or your tongue; if you're bleeding, apply pressure with a piece of gauze for approximately 10 minutes and if that doesn't stop it, see your dentist or go to the emergency room; if your mouth is swollen, apply a cold compress to the outside of your mouth or cheek; if the tooth is painful take an over-the-counter pain reliever; if you have to eat, make sure that you eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the chipped tooth.
Warning: Never put painkillers against your gums because they may burn the gum tissue.
How Does the Dentist Repair a Chipped Tooth?
The treatment of a chipped tooth will depend on how much of the tooth is chipped. If only a small piece of the tooth is chipped, treatment can usually be performed simply in one visit. A tooth that is chipped badly enough, that a lot of tooth structure needs to be repaired or replaced, may require a more lengthy procedure.
The main challenge is matching a single front tooth's colour, shape and consistency with the adjacent teeth. The following are some of the ways that your dentist may repair your chipped tooth...
Smooth and Polish
If the chip in your tooth is minor, your dentist might merely smooth and polish the chipped tooth and no supplementary treatment may be required.
Bonding Your Chipped Tooth
If the chipped tooth doesn't have any decay or pulpal involvement needing root canal treatment, the tooth can be cosmetically and conservatively treated with composite resin (white filling) bonding. Bonding is a good option for smaller chips and the treatment is fast and painless.
Repairing Your Chipped Tooth with a Porcelain Veneer
A porcelain veneer is a great permanent solution. A porcelain veneer is a non-aggressive restoration of tooth structure from the front surface of the tooth. It should last substantially longer but if the tooth ends up needing a root canal the tooth will likely change color which would also affect the color of the veneer.
Covering Your Chipped Tooth with an All-Ceramic Crown
If your tooth is chipped enough to expose the tooth nerve, you may need a root canal to remove the injured nerve, as well as a crown or cap to replace the chipped tooth.
Bonding Now and Veneer or Crown Later For Teeth That are Not Completely Mature
If your teeth are not completely mature your dentist might perform a conservative bonding and allow the tooth and gums around the tooth to completely mature. Then in a few years, your dentist would do a more permanent restoration.
How Long Does a Porcelain Veneer or Porcelain Crown Last?
A crown or a veneer can last a lifetime, however there is too much out of the dentist's control to predict that it would last that long. It depends on the type of crown or veneer used, whether or not you have any more trauma to the tooth; whether you grind your teeth; etc.