A chipped tooth can occur after a strong blow or undue wear and tear. It results to a rough tooth surface that might be tender, sharp or deformed.
What are the usual causes?
An individual can end up with a chipped tooth from various reasons. The common causes include the following:
- Falls or vehicular accidents
- Biting down on hard surfaces such as hard candy or ice
- Contact sports without protective equipment such as a mouth guard
- Grinding the teeth while sleeping
What are the signs?
If a chipped tooth is minor and not at the front part of the mouth, the individual might not be aware of having it.
In case symptoms are present, it might include:
- Sensation of a rough exterior when running the tongue over the teeth
- Irritation of the gum bordering the chipped tooth
- Pain from the pressure on the tooth while biting which can be intense if the damage is close to or exposed the nerves of the tooth
- Irritation of the tongue from “catching” it on the uneven and rough edge of the tooth
Management of a chipped tooth
The treatment for a chipped tooth is based on its location, seriousness and symptoms. Unless it triggers intense pain and significantly disrupts with sleeping and eating, it is not considered as a medical emergency.
It is best to see a doctor right away to avoid infection or additional impairment to the tooth. Take note that a minor chip is typically managed by smoothing and polishing the tooth.
For severe cases, the doctor might suggest the following:
- Tooth reattachment – if there is still a tooth fragment that broke off, submerge it in a glass of milk to keep it moist. The calcium present in milk can keep it alive. If milk is not available, the individual should tuck it into the gum but ensuring that it is not swallowed. A dentist must be seen right away to mount the fragment onto the tooth.
- Bonding – a composite resin or porcelain is cemented to the tooth surface and shaped to its form.
- Porcelain veneer – before affixing a veneer, the dentist will level out some of the enamel to allow space for the veneer. The dentist will create an impression of the tooth to create a veneer.
- Dental onlays – if a chipped tooth only affects a region, the dentist might suggest a dental onlay that is often applied on the surface of the molars. A mold of the tooth is taken to create the onlay. Once ready, it is fitted onto the tooth and cemented.