A chipped tooth can happen at the most unexpected and unwanted times (not that there really ever is a good time to chip your tooth). Maybe you were taking a sip of coffee at the same moment you drove over a speed bump. Or your toddler thought it would be cute to whack you in the face with their favorite wooden toy.
Whatever the cause, chipped teeth are, unfortunately, very noticeable and incredibly uncomfortable. Here’s how your dentist can quickly repair the chip and help you get your smile back.
Have a chipped tooth you need to get fixed ASAP? Contact Alaska Dental Arts today and ask about a same-day appointment!
Is a Chipped Tooth a Dental Emergency?
While a quick internet search will bring up a list of “home repair kits” for chipped teeth, at Alaska Dental Arts, we will always suggest professional dental care for tooth trauma. Without a professional opinion, it can be difficult to tell if a chipped tooth is superficial, meaning you just lost a little bit of enamel, or if there are fractures that compromise the structure and health of your teeth.
While a small chip might not cause immediate issues, if you’ve chipped, cracked, or broken your teeth, it’s important to call your dentist ASAP and get seen quickly. If you are feeling any pain or sensitivity in the damaged area, it’s even more essential to get seen right away, as this may mean you’ve damaged the dentin or pulp of your teeth. Without immediate care, your tooth becomes more susceptible to further damage and discomfort.
Common Causes of Chipped Teeth
Trauma is the most common reason for a chipped tooth; however, there are also some chronic issues that can make your teeth more susceptible to damage. Common reasons someone might chip their tooth include:
- Sports injuries, especially from high-impact sports
- Biting into a hard object such as candy, popcorn kernels, or ice
- Hitting your mouth after a fall or during an auto accident
- Using your teeth as a tool
- Bumping your teeth into a cup, mug, or bottle
Chronic issues that can lead to chipped teeth include:
- Dental decay, which weakens teeth
- Large dental fillings
- Bruxism or teeth grinding
- Bad habits, such as chewing ice
- Chronic acid reflux
- High-acid or high-sugar diet
- A diet low in calcium and other tooth-strengthening minerals
Unlike other parts of your body, such as your nails or skin, tooth enamel will not grow back after deterioration or damage, so it is always important to protect and strengthen your teeth. Sports mouth guards, bruxism nightguards, good dental hygiene, and a well-balanced diet supporting your dental health can help you avoid a chipped tooth.
7 Things to Do Immediately After Chipping a Tooth
While we never recommend restoring your chipped tooth at home, there are several steps you should take to manage pain and prevent more damage before your dental appointment:
- Collect any tooth fragments: If you find any pieces of your missing tooth, pick these up, wrap them in wet gauze, and bring them with you to your appointment. It’s also a good idea to search your mouth for any pieces to avoid biting down on or swallowing them.
- Clean the area: Rinse your mouth with warm water immediately after the injury. In addition to continuing to brush and floss regularly until your appointment, you can also do a saltwater rinse several times a day for about 30 seconds to prevent infection.
- Stop any bleeding: Bleeding from a chipped tooth can indicate a more serious injury. Use a clean, wet piece of gauze or cloth to put gentle pressure on the area and stop bleeding.
- Avoid chewing with the tooth: Whether you’ve chipped a front tooth or molar, until you’ve seen a dentist, it’s best to avoid using the injured tooth as much as possible. Consider chewing on the other side of your mouth or sticking with softer foods until your dentist can examine it.
- Cover jagged edges: Protect your gums and surrounding cheek tissue by covering up the jagged edges of your chipped tooth. You can use dental wax or sugarless gum to cover the surface of your tooth.
- Address pain and swelling: If you notice swelling around the injured area or are experiencing any pain or discomfort, you can use ice and take acetaminophen for pain relief.
- Call your dentist: We can’t stress enough how important it is to call your dentist as soon as possible! If your dentist has no openings in the next couple of days, you can visit an office that offers emergency dental appointments.
How Your Dentist Can Repair a Chipped Tooth
While there is nothing fun about getting a chipped tooth, the good news is that this is one of the most common types of dental injuries, and there are several options available to get your tooth looking and feeling normal.
Dental bonding is one of the most common treatments for more minor chips that only impact your tooth’s enamel. With bonding, your dentist will use a tooth-colored composite resin to reshape your tooth and fill in any gaps or small cracks. This process is minimally invasive and generally does not require any numbing. Your dentist will lightly roughen the surface of your tooth, apply an adhesive, shape your tooth with resin, and then harden it with ultraviolet light.
Dental veneers are thin shells that cover the surface of your tooth. They are often made from porcelain — a very strong, non-staining material that dental lab experts can craft to match your other teeth. Veneers often require two dental visits, but the result is stunning! The veneers are permanently bonded to your teeth for a beautiful replacement that can also help you close front tooth gaps and achieve the optimal shape, color, and alignment of your teeth.
If your tooth chip is very small, you may not need to cover up your tooth at all! With dental contouring, your dentist can remove little bits of enamel until your teeth no longer look chipped.
If you have a damaged molar, tooth decay, or a more severe chip or fracture, your dentist may need to use a dental crown to restore and protect your tooth from further damage. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap. Your dentist will shave or reshape your damaged tooth as needed and place a custom dental crown on top that looks and functions like a natural tooth.
If your tooth is significantly damaged, it might not be able to be saved. A severe tooth fracture or injury to the inner parts of the tooth may make extraction the best alternative. In this case, your dentist would extract your tooth and make a plan for dental implants. With this treatment, your dentist places a permanent titanium screw into your gum, acting like a tooth root. After healing, a dental crown is placed over the screw — completing your smile!
Fix Your Chipped Tooth ASAP With Alaska Dental Arts
Chipped teeth can be embarrassing and painful (not to mention a major inconvenience), but there’s no need to walk around with a broken tooth for long! At Alaska Dental Arts, we offer emergency dental appointments and can often get you in to see a dentist the same day. We have two convenient locations in East Anchorage and the North Pole, and we offer a Dental Savings Plan that offers significant discounts on your dental care. Freaking out after a tooth chip? We’ve got you covered. Reach out to Alaska Dental Arts for a quick fix!