A chipped tooth is a common dental problem that can happen for various reasons, such as biting on something hard, falling or getting hit in the face, or having tooth decay or a large filling. A chipped tooth may not cause any pain or discomfort, but it can affect your appearance and oral health. Here are some steps you should take if you chip your tooth and how your dentist can fix it.
Step 1: Rinse your mouth with warm water
As soon as you notice that you have chipped your tooth, you should rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area and remove any debris. This can also help prevent infection and inflammation1.
Step 2: Stop any bleeding and reduce swelling
If your chipped tooth is bleeding, you should apply pressure to the area with a clean gauze pad or a piece of cloth until the bleeding stops. You can also use a cold compress or an ice pack on the outside of your cheek or lip to reduce swelling and pain1.
Step 3: Save the broken piece if possible
If you can find the piece of the tooth that broke off, you should wrap it in wet gauze or a damp paper towel and bring it with you to the dentist. Your dentist may be able to reattach it to your tooth or use it as a guide for repairing your tooth1.
Step 4: See your dentist as soon as possible
You should see your dentist as soon as possible after chipping your tooth, even if it does not hurt or bother you. A chipped tooth can expose the inner layer of your tooth, called dentin, which is more sensitive and prone to decay than the outer layer, called enamel. A chipped tooth can also affect your bite and cause further damage to your tooth or surrounding teeth2.
How your dentist can fix your chipped tooth
Depending on the size and location of the chip, your dentist may use different methods to repair your chipped tooth. Some of the common options are:
- Polishing: If the chip is small and only affects the enamel, your dentist may simply smooth and polish the rough edge of your tooth2.
- Filling: If the chip is larger and affects the dentin or the pulp (the soft tissue inside your tooth), your dentist may fill the gap with a tooth-coloured material called composite resin. This can restore the shape and function of your tooth2.
- Crown: If the chip is extensive and weakens your tooth structure, your dentist may cover your entire tooth with a cap called a crown. A crown can be made of metal, porcelain, or composite resin and can protect your tooth from further damage2.
- Veneer: If the chip is on a front tooth and affects your appearance, your dentist may bond a thin shell called a veneer to the front surface of your tooth. A veneer can be made of porcelain or composite resin and can improve the colour, shape, and size of your tooth2.
- Root canal: If the chip reaches the pulp of your tooth and causes infection or inflammation, your dentist may perform a procedure called a root canal. This involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning and filling the root canal, and sealing the tooth with a crown2.
A chipped tooth is not a dental emergency, but it should not be ignored either. By following these steps and seeing your dentist promptly, you can prevent complications and restore your smile.
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