Your teeth are tough, but they aren’t invincible. Do you know what to do if you chip a tooth? Whether you are using your teeth to open a package, cheerfully crunching away on ice cubes, or surprised by an elbow to the jaw while playing your favorite sport, when you discover that you’ve got a dental dilemma on your hands, knowing how to respond quickly is important.
What to Do If You Chip a Tooth
Enamel is the hardest tissue in the body, and it forms the outer layer of each tooth. Hidden inside this protective shell is the pulp, an area of soft tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels. Sometimes, an injury or decay causes damage to just the enamel. In other cases, the damage exposes the pulp. When you damage a tooth, the health of the tooth and the location, severity, and type of damage determine what response is necessary. Let’s explore what to do if you chip a tooth . . .
Injuries to the Teeth
If a tooth is knocked out, there’s no question about your best strategy: You need to seek emergency assistance immediately to have any hope of saving the tooth. If a tooth is cracked or broken, you’ll want to see a dentist as soon as possible to prevent further damage and arrange for a repair. When it comes to handling a chipped tooth, your decision isn’t as clear-cut.
If a tooth chips, a small piece of the enamel that forms its outer layer breaks free. When the chip is small, shallow, and painless, there’s less urgency. While this minor injury should be seen by a dental professional to verify that it’s not likely to increase in severity or cause future problems, it’s not a desperate situation. However, if a chip is large, painful, or in a location that’s under stress, the damage may extend beyond the enamel. In this case, you’ll want to seek assistance from your dentist as soon as possible. Any delay can leave you at risk of infection, additional damage, and tooth loss.
When a Tooth Is Chipped
Wondering what to do if you chip a tooth? For starters, rinse your mouth with warm, salty water. This will help prevent infection and reduce your pain. Then, consider your symptoms and take the appropriate actions:
- If bleeding is an issue, use clean gauze to apply gentle pressure.
- If pain and swelling are problematic, take an over-the-counter pain reliever to combat inflammation and discomfort. An ice pack on your cheek can also be helpful.
- If the tooth is sensitive to pressure or temperature, protect it by eating soft foods and avoiding cold foods and liquids.
- If the tooth has sharp edges, cover them with dental wax or sugarless gum to shield your tongue and cheeks.
- Contact your dentist to schedule an appointment for evaluation and repair.
Fixing and Preventing Chipped Teeth
There are many ways to fix a chipped tooth. The best method depends on the details of the damage. Superficial chips in inconspicuous locations may simply need to be polished to smooth away sharp edges. Chipped molars may need fillings to repair the damage and fend off decay. Since front teeth play a major role in your smile, bonding or veneers may be suggested to repair the chip without compromising the appearance of your grin.
What if the chip exposes the tooth’s pulp or is in an area that experiences a great deal of stress as a result of your bite? A crown or cap may be needed. In fact, if the pulp is damaged or infection sets in, a root canal may be necessary before a crown can be placed.
Healthy teeth are stronger and better able to resist stress than teeth plagued by decay or misalignments. Therefore, maintaining a good oral health care regimen that includes brushing and flossing properly at home and visiting your dentist regularly for routine dental care can significantly reduce your risk of chipping a tooth.
Don’t let a chipped tooth compromise your smile. If you’ve injured a tooth, reach out to your dentist today to schedule an appointment.
At Wilkinson Dental, we are committed to your comfort. We are proud to offer you and your family a relaxing office environment while providing the care you need for a happier, healthier smile. It’s why we offer a variety of services like cleaning and exams, teeth whitening, and more. If you’re ready to set up an appointment, please give us a call at 417-708-0556 or click here. We look forward to hearing from you!