Things to do when you’ve chipped a tooth
You’ve bitten into a piece of ice, fallen face-first, or taken a hit to the mouth. Something’s rolling around on your tongue and it feels unfamiliar in your mouth. Your stomach drops as you realize it’s a piece of broken tooth. There’s nothing more frightening than the thought of “breaking” your smile.
Although the enamel on our teeth (the hardest tissue in our bodies) exists to protect our smile, its strength isn’t infinite. Falling, getting hit in the face, or chomping on something too hard can cause a tooth to chip or break. Don’t panic. There are many things we can do to help you restore it.
The type of treatment for a chipped or broken tooth will depend on the severity of the damage. If you’ve only lost a small piece, one office visit might be enough to get your tooth repaired.
Firstly though, if you’ve chipped or damaged a tooth, don’t wait to take action.
A damaged tooth is more than an inconvenience—it could lead to infection or long-term problems that cause issues with normal functions such as eating and speaking. If you chip your tooth, call us right away so we can help you restore your tooth and regain your confidence in that beautiful smile.
In the meantime, here are a few self-care tips prior to your office visit:
- Rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the tooth.
- If you have any pain, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Avoid all hard foods. Eat soft foods only, and don’t bite down on the broken tooth.
- If the broken tooth has a jagged edge, covering it with orthodontic wax can help prevent it from cutting the inside of your lip, cheek, or tongue.
- Dental cement (found at most drugstores) can also temporarily cover the damaged tooth.
- If there is bleeding, place a piece of gauze or a cool rag in your mouth and apply light pressure to the damaged tooth. This can also help reduce discomfort.
Dental restorations for a chipped or broken tooth
Dental Filling or Bonding
Bonding is a relatively simple procedure that typically doesn’t require numbing to the tooth. First, the broken tooth’s surface is etched with a liquid or gel to roughen it and make the bonding material stick. Next, an adhesive material is applied to the tooth followed by a tooth-colored resin. After the bonding material is shaped to look like your natural tooth, an ultraviolet light will harden the material.
Dental Cap or Crown
If a large piece of your tooth has fallen off, or if your tooth has a lot of decay, the remaining piece of tooth can be treated and restored with a dental crown or tooth-shaped cap. Crowns are made to protect the tooth and restore the tooth’s natural appearance.
A dental veneer can make your damaged tooth look healthy and whole again. A veneer is a thin shell of porcelain or resin composite material that covers the front of your tooth with a thicker section to replace the broken part. Veneers can also be used to cover up stains and close gaps between teeth.
Root Canal Therapy
If your tooth chip or break is large enough to expose the pulp (the center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels), bacteria from your mouth can enter and cause an infection. If you’ve prolonged repairing a damaged tooth and you’re noticing pain, sensitivity to heat, or a change in color, this could mean your pulp is damaged or diseased. Root canal therapy involves removing the pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it. In most cases, the remaining tooth will be covered with a crown.
Contact us at our Pittsford, NY office today at (585) 348-2575 to learn more, or schedule a consultation. Our staff is happy to answer any questions you have.
Pittsford Dental Excellence Center provides total oral and airway healthcare to patients in Fairport, Pittsford, and the surrounding areas in Rochester, NY.
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