Tooth enamel is the hardest tissue in the human body, but it can still become cracked or chipped due to injury. People often chip or break teeth when biting down on hard food such as ice, nuts or hard candies. It is also becoming a more common injury from metal straws. Chipped teeth can cause discomfort and lead to serious infections. Dr. Mark S. Jefferies is a Herndon, VA cosmetic dentist who wants you to know your options for handling a chipped tooth before it becomes a serious issue.
What to Do for a Chipped Tooth
If you find yourself with a chipped, broken or fractured tooth, it’s important to visit Dr. Jefferies or your local dentist as soon as possible. If you wait, your chipped tooth could become even more damaged and require much more extensive treatment. Worse yet, the damaged tooth could become infected, resulting in serious health risks and possible tooth loss.
Can You Treat A Chipped Tooth at Home?
Until you are able to see a dentist, you can try the following self-care measures:
- Manage the pain by taking acetaminophen, ibuprofen or another type of over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Rinse your mouth out with salt water to reduce the risk of infection.
- If the chipped tooth has a jagged or sharp edge, cover it with a piece of sugarless chewing gum or wax paraffin to protect your tongue and cheek.
- Eat only softer foods and do not bite down on the damaged tooth until it has been treated by a dentist.
- Treat the tooth with Dentemp or a similar product, which are available at most drugstores and pharmacies. These are designed to temporarily cover a chipped tooth until you can consult with a dentist.
How Your Dentist Will Fix Your Chipped Tooth?
The treatment for a chipped or broken tooth depends largely on the severity of the damage. If only a small piece of the enamel has chipped off, the enamel is likely able to be repaired in one office visit. However, a badly broken or damaged tooth may require more complicated procedures, which may require more than one office visit. Below are some treatments to repair your chipped or broken tooth.
Filling or Bonding: If you’ve chipped away a small piece of enamel, your dentist may be able to repair the damage with a filling like they use to repair cavities. If the chip occurred to a front tooth, your dentist may use tooth-colored composite resin to repair the damage. Called cosmetic dental bonding, this relatively simple procedure can usually be applied without any anesthetic. The dentist starts by covering the surface of the tooth with a special gel or liquid. Next, he or she will apply an adhesive substance, followed by the resin which is shaped to match the missing piece of your tooth. Your dentist will then cure the resin using an ultraviolet light which makes it harden for use biting and chewing alongside the rest of your teeth.
Dental Veneers: For chipped or broken front teeth, you can restore your flawless teeth with a dental veneer. Veneers are a thin shell of tooth-colored resin composite material or porcelain that are created and customized in a lab to cover your damaged teeth. Your dentist will then be adhered to the surface of your existing teeth using special cement.
Dental Cap or Crown: If you have lost a substantial portion of the damaged 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 restore its appearance. If the pulp is exposed by the damage, your tooth may develop an infection. When this occurs, your dentist may have to remove the infected pulp through root canal therapy and then cap the treated tooth with a crown.
Repairing a Chipped Tooth in Herndon, VA
Remember, do not wait to fix your chipped or damaged tooth. If you live in the Herndon, VA area and have a chipped tooth or any other dental issue, trust Dr. Jefferies to restore the health and appearance of your smile. Call (703) 570-1152 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.