Chipped teeth are more common than you might think; although tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, teeth are surprisingly easy to crack, fracture, or chip away. If you bite down on something hard, like a cube of ice, or fall face-first onto hard concrete, you’re putting your teeth at risk for chipping. Even athletes who play contact sports risk damaging their teeth from a misplaced elbow or a tackle to the ground. Thankfully, your dentist can assess your tooth and provide a variety of treatments that can restore your tooth in no time.
Generally speaking, you’ll notice when you’ve chipped a tooth. You may or may not feel the moment your tooth cracks – if you’re chewing on hard candy, for example, you may notice the piece of tooth floating in your mouth without experiencing much pain. Risk factors for chipping your teeth include:
- Playing sports – even traditionally non-contact sports – like soccer, basketball, or hockey
- Chewing on hard objects, like ice or hard candy
- Falling onto hard ground, or falling face-first
- Receiving a blow to the face
- Even if you don’t play sports or chew on ice, you may be putting yourself at risk for a chipped tooth by neglecting proper dental hygiene. Teeth that have significant plaque buildup or decay are more likely to crack or chip than healthy teeth.
How Do I Treat my Chipped Tooth?
If you chip or crack your tooth, see your dentist immediately. Allowing a cracked tooth to go untreated can lead to increased damage or infection If you are experiencing the pain of a deeply cracked tooth, but can’t locate a crack or chip on the surface of your tooth, you may have cracked tooth syndrome, a condition in which a tiny fracture permeates a deep layer of your tooth and can cause significant pain. Depending on the severity of your crack or chip, your dentist will choose a treatment procedure that will help heal and restore the look of your natural teeth.
- Filling or bonding: If your chip is small, your dentist may provide a filling or a bond, in which a resin is adhered to resemble the same shape and color of the original tooth.
- Dental crown: If your chip is larger or if your tooth has a large crack or significant decay, your dentist may file your tooth to remove most of its surface and replace it with a crown, a cap that looks and functions like your original tooth. Sometimes, if most of the tooth has fallen out, your dentist will place a post along with your tooth root and fix a crown on top to secure your new “tooth”.
Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Cracked tooth syndrome is a nearly invisible crack in the tooth that can cause severe pain and lead to tooth decay and infection if left untreated. If you feel sharp pain when biting, eating or drinking, pain that comes in waves or is caused by certain types of food, or tooth pain without any noticeable cause, ask your dentist to check for micro-fractures in your teeth. Your dentist will treat your cracked tooth in much the same way as a chipped tooth; if the crack has reached the inside of your tooth, a root canal procedure may be necessary to prevent infection.
If you have a chipped tooth or suspect you may have cracked tooth syndrome, don’t delay visiting your dentist to determine if a filling or crown can restore your teeth to their full functionality.