What to Do When You Chip a Tooth

Most people will experience a chipped tooth at some point in their lives. As a matter of fact, millions of Americans chip or otherwise break their teeth in some form or another. While chipping a tooth is not usually very painful, it is still a very alarming experience for many. Not to mention, a broken or chipped tooth can be very unsightly. In this article, we will go over what you should do in the event that you chip a tooth.

Luckily, chipped teeth are very common.

Immediate Care

This is what you should do immediately after you chip a tooth:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water. Not only will this clear any blood, it will also remove any pieces of the tooth that may still be in your mouth following the damage. This will prevent you from swallowing the tooth, or accidentally damaging other teeth by biting down on it.
  • If the bleeding does not stop after the water rinse, apply pressure with a clean, damp rag. Remember that if bleeding is excessive, you should call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room.
  • If you can, try to preserve the tooth. The dentist may be able to use the broken piece of the tooth to repair it. You can preserve a chipped tooth in milk or a saline solution.
  • Apply a cold compress and take over-the-counter pain medication to hold you over. A cold compress and pain medication will help in reducing swelling, as well as alleviating the pain.

The most important thing to do is get in to see a dentist as soon as possible. Many cosmetic dentists will be able to get patients in quickly, especially when they are made aware of the severity of the situation. Be forthcoming about the damage and the pain, and an emergency cosmetic dentist should be able to repair your teeth within a few days.

If you’re looking for a great cosmetic dentist in Mclean, VA, consider Dr. Jamie Laviola. You can view the practice’s comprehensive website here.

How Do Chipped Teeth Occur?

In general, chipped or broken teeth occur when there is too much force on a tooth. There are several ways a chipped tooth can occur, but these are among the most common:

  • Auto or biking accidents

The force of any sort of vehicle accident can cause the head to fling forward. The impact of the mouth coming into contact with a steering wheel can cause chipped, or even missing, teeth.

  • Using teeth to open things

There are a lot of people who tend to use their teeth to open bottles or packaging for convenience. However, teeth are not designed for this, so it commonly leads to tooth damage.

  • Chewing on ice cubes or popcorn kernels

Surprisingly, many people chip their teeth when chewing on ice cubes or unpopped popcorn kernels. Both ice and kernels require a lot of force to bite through, and teeth are not designed for that type of pressure, biting too hard can result in dental damage.

  • Bruxism

Bruxism is the medical term for grinding teeth. Over time, grinding your teeth will wear down the enamel, thus making your teeth weaker. This will increase your risk of chipping or breaking a tooth.

Different Kinds of Chipped Teeth

There are five different main types of chipped or broken teeth.

  • Craze lines are small surface cracks that look like small lines, and they generally occur with age. They only affect the outer enamel, so people rarely get this repaired, and they are of little concern both aesthetically and medically.
  • Vertical root fractures begin at the root but spread down over time. Typically, patients do not notice these until they inevitably cause an infection.
  • A fractured cusp is when a piece of the tooth’s chewing surface breaks. It could make very little difference if it is not severe, but it could make chewing difficult or cause discrepancies in your smile if it is severe.
  • Cracked teeth crack in the direction of the root. They also worsen with wear and tear over time.
  • Split teeth generally mean that the tooth is not repairable. The interior of the tooth is in danger of infection due to the fact that the enamel is not intact.

Damage That Needs Treatment VS Damage That Does Not

According to research done in 2015, the most commonly damaged teeth are the molars in the lower jaw. This is likely due to their pointy cusps, and how powerfully they can grind into the top molars.

However, any tooth has the potential to break. Dental cracks can range from mild cosmetic damage to severe injuries. Very deep cracks can even run down to the root, which can cause issues in nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. Damage to the pulp chamber is also very painful and dangerous.

Some cracks are not visible at all, and can hide inside the tooth or in the part of the tooth that is covered by the gums. However, cracks and chips in the tooth can lead to cavities, increased sensitivity, and gum disease.

Generally speaking, the more severe the damage, the more extensive the treatment will be. A dentist can diagnose damage by examining the tooth visually, performing a variety of tests, or conducting X-rays.

If you’ve had recent damage to your mouth resulting in tooth pain or damage, it’s important to see a reputable dentist who can accurately assess the situation. They can decide if any treatment is necessary, and what the best treatment would be.

Treatment Options for Chipped Teeth

What to do when you chip a tooth

Depending on the situation, a dentist has several options on how to fix a chipped or broken tooth. These are the most common:

  • Dental fillings – If the damage done to the teeth is not severe, and only a small portion of the tooth has chipped off, a filling may be enough to repair the tooth. During a filling, the chip is filled with a resin that hardens and protects the tooth.
  • Dental crown – This is a good choice when the damage is more substantial and a larger part of the tooth is missing. A dental crown can be used to protect the nerves underneath.
  • In some cases, if the dental pulp is infected, a root canal has to be performed prior to placing a crown.
  • Dental veneer – If the chipped tooth is in a highly visible part of the mouth, like a front tooth, a porcelain veneer may be necessary to aesthetically repair the tooth.
  • Dental implant – In the case that the entire tooth has to be replaced, a dental implant may be a great choice. The look and feel is the same as an actual tooth.

Cost of Repairing a Chipped Tooth

Due to the variety of treatment options for chipped teeth, the price can vary. Nearly 500 million dollars are spent annually in the United States to repair chipped or broken teeth.

A root canal or crown can cost $2,500 to $3,000, depending on where you get it done. The more drastic repairs, such as an impact, will cost between $3,000 to $5,000.

Luckily, most dental insurance covers some or all of a tooth repair, including if you chip a tooth. However, many insurers will refuse to cover it in the event that they determine the procedure is not medically necessary.

What Happens When Chipped Teeth Are Untreated?

A chipped tooth will never get better on its own. They can also cause a patient severe dental health issues down the line if they are left untreated. Cosmetic damage can also lead to a deteriorating self esteem – many don’t realize how much a smile plays into their confidence.

Ignoring a chipped or broken tooth won’t make it go away, which is why it’s important to fix the issue as soon as possible.

Finding good care at an affordable price is not as daunting as it may seem. Dr. Laviola’s practice understands that cosmetic dental work is daunting, which is why they do great work to help their clients both medically and cosmetically at a fair price.

In Conclusion

It can be painful to break or chip a tooth, but repairing them may not be as daunting as one may think.

Emergency cosmetic dentists excel in repairing tooth damage in a cost-effective and timely manner. With a wide variety of treatment options like fillings, crowns, veneers, and implants, cosmetic dentists can alleviate pain and get their patients feeling better about their smile in no time.

If the damage is severe, you should try to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible. A general rule of thumb is that, if the tooth is fully knocked out, try to get in to see an emergency dentist within 30 minutes. If the damage is not severe and you can wait to book an appointment, do your best to manage pain and preserve the damaged tooth in the meantime. Emergency cosmetic dentists can typically book patients within a couple of days.

If you happened to chip a tooth and you’re looking for a great cosmetic dentist in Mclean, VA, consider Dr. Jamie Laviola. Visit the practice’s website and book an appointment today.