• Dr. Shay

Ouch! I just broke a tooth, what are my options?

A chipped tooth can happen at any time and can really ruin your day. An accidental fall or glass bottle can lead to the frightening occurrence of a chipped tooth. However, there’s no need to panic, there are many options to repairing your broken tooth. First, the level of severity of the tooth chip needs to be assessed. We will be going through the different levels of chipping and the options that you have.

1. Minor Chip

Image from Dear Doctor Inc.

A minor chip is one that is hard to see from two feet away. These small chips can be easily remedied by your dentist buffing or polishing the chip out. Even if the chip is small, you should never attempt to buff out your own chip and you should always speak with your dentist first.

2. Medium Chip

A medium chip is one that is bigger than a grain of rice. The remedies for medium chip vary and can depend on the size of the chip, the integrity of the remaining tooth, and if you were able to save the broken remainder of your tooth.

i. Cementation: If the chip is the size of at least two rice grains and you were able to save the chipped portion of your tooth then you might be able to cement the chip back on. An experienced dentist will be able to cement your tooth back on without a visible line evidencing the crack. The remaining tooth can be cemented back on and a wire may be placed behind the tooth to help maintain the tooth’s strength and integrity.

ii. The wire placed on the back of the tooth should be placed there permanently to reduce the risk of chipping the tooth.

iii. Bonding: Bonding is when the dentist uses a tooth color resin to shape a replacement for the lost chip. However, there is a chance that the bond may not match your other teeth in opacity.

iv. Veneer: A veneer may be a good option for your chipped tooth if you are worried about your bonded tooth not matching your natural teeth. A veneer covers the front of the tooth and may cover some of the back of the tooth as long as it will not affect your bite. However, a veneer is not viable if the chip is too large or if the remaining tooth lacks the integrity to support the veneer.

v. Crown: If your tooth needs additional reinforcement to maintain its strength and integrity, a crown may be a good choice for your chip. A crown covers the entire circumference of the tooth and can be an effective remedy for a weak remaining tooth.

3. Severe Chip

A severe chip is one that has affected the nerve of the tooth or the chip has extended to the base of the tooth. These severe chips will need more intensive rehabilitation.

Image from Annapolis Dental Center

This tooth is a candidate for a root canal and crown procedure.

i. Root canal and crown: When the break has affected the nerve or nervous system or when there is not enough remaining tooth to support a crown, your dentist may perform a root canal and post placement in conjunction with a crown.

ii. Dental Implant: When the tooth is fractured all the way through the nerve as well as the root structure your dentist may perform a dental implant procedure. You can learn more about dental implants on our post: “Fact or Fiction? The Truth about Dental Implants.”

4. How to avoid a chipped tooth: Although there is no way to reduce the possibility of a chipped tooth to zero, there are a few activities that have a higher risk.

a. Eating: You don’t want a tasty meal to end in a trip to the dentist’s office! A common cause of chips is when a person bites into a fork with too much force. In addition, pitted fruit such as peaches, nectarines, and plums can cause a chip if you accidentally bite into the pit. You can limit your risk by slowing down when you eat or cutting the fruit away from the pit before eating.

b. Play contact sports: Activities such as kickboxing, martial arts, basketball, surfing, skating, or boxing all have the risk of either a person or object coming in contact with your mouth. You can limit your risk by wearing a mouth guard.

c. Children and Pets: Playing with your children and your pets can bring immeasurable joy to your life, but you don’t want it to also bring a hefty dental bill. There have been many instances of a child or pet accidentally hitting their parent in the mouth while horse playing and causing a tooth to chip. We would never tell you to stop playing with your children or pets but remember to always take precaution to avoid a chip!

5. If you have an unfortunate tooth chip and are seeking care you can contact our office, Linden Dental Care, at 310-305-4644!

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