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Chipped Teeth: What You Need To Know

Chipping a tooth can be painful and unsightly. Depending on the severity of the chip, seeking professional help to prevent further chips or cracking around the tooth is highly recommended. If you’ve found yourself in this common yet unfortunate position, here are a few facts to help assess your own damage before consulting your dentist.

Just chipped your tooth

Immediately after chipping your tooth, you’ll likely notice grainy, sharp particles throughout your mouth. Rinse thoroughly with tepid salt water to prevent jarring temperature changes to the potentially exposed nerves. Proceed to follow the below steps:

  • Look at the chipped tooth or teeth in the mirror. Check for any further cracks or damage, which should reveal whether the instance is more severe or moderate.

  • If you notice larger cracks or damage to the tooth resulting in jagged edges and sharp angles, apply paraffin wax or sugarless gum to the teeth to prevent cutting your tongue, cheeks, or lips.

  • Immediately make an appointment with a dentist or specialist in your area if pain or further damage is noticeable around the chip. The damage could result in increased deterioration of the tooth, or cause need for root canals to contain nerve endings and properly encase the tooth.

  • Avoid eating hard foods or making direct contact with the chipped tooth/teeth before visiting a specialist.

Going to the dentist

Upon visiting your dentist, an initial assessment to determine the severity of the chipped tooth/teeth is conducted. Depending on their conclusion, fillings, crowns, veneers, or resin bonding can properly encase the teeth without majorly intensive procedures. For minor instances, dentists may even suggest grinding small portions of the tooth to smooth any jagged or rough edges. For more severe instances, root canals to preserve the tooth and its surrounding nerves may be recommended.

Ways to avoid chipping teeth

While obvious to avoid injuries and blunt force to your teeth, many daily functions and uses of our teeth can create more probability of damaging or chipping teeth. Below are some basic and preventable examples of how to further avoid chipping teeth in the future.

  • Hard Candy - However delicious and tempting hard candy may be, avoid crunching or chomping on suckers, lozenges, jaw breakers, popcorn colonels, or any bite-sized hard foods that may damage your teeth.

  • Ice - Chewing on ice after sipping cold beverages is a common habit among many, adding more potential to chip teeth on solid or jagged chunks of ice.

  • Contact Sports - Mouth guards exist for the sole purpose of protecting your teeth and mouth from jarring contact. Whether you play casually or seriously in rigorous sports, protecting your mouth from potential accidents during sports is largely preventable.

  • Bruxism (Grinding Teeth) - Dentists commonly check patients for misaligned or ground teeth due to bruxism, or the grinding of teeth. This can occur during sleep or habitually throughout the day. Mouth guards can prevent more severe cases of bruxism, including therapies and medication if determined necessary.

For children who’ve experienced a chipped baby (primary) tooth, many dentists may recommend waiting until permanent teeth make their way to the surface. Without further pain or discomfort, the chip is considered mostly cosmetic if not causing additional pain to your child.

While tooth enamel may be the hardest tissue in the human body, chipping teeth occurs frequently enough that dentists can quickly and efficiently assess any severity of damage to your teeth. Without the proper treatment in severe or sometimes minor cases, more serious pains and damage can occur. If you are unsure of the damage you may have incurred, never hesitate to immediately contact your local dentist to begin a thorough examination.