How to Care for a Chipped or Broken Tooth
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on how severely it is damaged. If only a small piece of enamel broke off, the repair can usually be done simply in one office visit. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure. In the meantime, try the following options:
- If the tooth is painful, take acetaminophen or another over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Rinse your mouth with saltwater.
- If the break has caused a sharp or jagged edge, cover it with a piece of wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum to keep it from cutting your tongue or the inside of your lip or cheek.
- If you must eat, eat soft foods and avoid biting down on the broken tooth.
- Filling or Bonding: If you’ve chipped away a small piece of enamel, your dentist may be able to repair the damage by applying a filling. If the damage occurred to a front tooth, the dentist may repair the damage by applying a tooth-colored composite resin. Called bonding, this relatively simple procedure usually requires no numbing agent. The dentist starts by etching the surface of the tooth with a special gel or liquid. Next, they will apply an adhesive substance, followed by the resin. After shaping the resin to make it match your natural tooth, the dentist will harden the material using ultraviolet light.
- Dental Veneers: If a front tooth is chipped or broken, your dentist can make it look healthy and flawless by applying a dental veneer. A thin shell of tooth-colored resin composite material or porcelain, veneers are specially created and customized to match your specific needs. They are then applied over the surface of your existing tooth using special cement.
- Dental Cap or Crown: If you have lost a substantial portion of your tooth, your dentist may file away part of the remaining tooth and cap it with a crown, designed to protect the tooth, preserve function and improve aesthetic appearance. If the damage is severe enough to expose the pulp within the tooth, you may develop pulp damage or infection. When this occurs, your dentist may have to remove the dead or dying pulp through root canal therapy. Afterward, the dentist will cap the tooth with a crown.
A chipped tooth is a fairly common dental issue, but that doesn’t mean your fix should be run-of-the-mill. Take care of the problem quickly by making an appointment and discussing options with your dentist. With the right care and restoration, you’ll be back to a healthy, chip-free smile in no time. Contact your dentist to schedule an appointment.