A chipped or cracked tooth is a common reason why people visit their dentist. Regardless of how it happened, you may start feeling self-conscious about your smile. Luckily, there are several dental solutions for fractured or chipped teeth. Exploring them before seeing your dentist may help you to choose the smile restoration option that's right for you.
Is It a Chipped or Cracked Tooth?
A chip is when a small portion of the tooth's enamel breaks off, leaving a rough or jagged edge. The inner areas of the tooth, such as the pulp and nerves, aren't usually exposed unless it's a deep chip. Chips are mostly a cosmetic problem, but they can weaken the tooth or lead to further chipping.
Cracks or fractures can appear on the chewing surface of the tooth, the cusp, or the root. A crack can destroy the entire tooth if it remains untreated and extends to the pulp. Pain or discomfort when chewing and sensitivity to hot or cold foods are telltale signs that the nerves are affected. A severely cracked tooth not only affects oral functioning but can also lead to tooth loss.
What Causes Teeth to Chip or Crack?
Damage can result from wear and tear, a hit to the mouth, or tooth decay. Other common causes include:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Misaligned bite
- Biting down too hard
- Teeth-grinding (bruxism)
- Biting hard objects, e.g. ice or pencils
- Using your teeth to open bottles
How Do Dentists Repair a Chipped or Cracked Tooth?
The correct restorative treatment will depend on whether the damage appears on your front or back tooth, the size of the chip, or the severity of the crack. Small or minor chips can easily be fixed by smoothing out the rough edges and polishing the teeth. Following an oral exam and x-rays, your dentist may recommend one of these other treatment options:
- Filling or bonding: Dental filling is a suitable solution if a small piece of enamel broke off from your back tooth and for superficial or craze line fractures. Tooth-colored composite resin can be bonded to a chipped front tooth and shaped to restore its natural appearance. Bonding works well for larger chips and is more aesthetically pleasing for front teeth.
- Dental veneers: A severely chipped or fractured tooth can be fixed by covering the front surface with a durable, wafer-thin shell made of composite resin or porcelain. Porcelain veneers have a natural, shiny appearance similar to your natural teeth and can last for many years. Your dentist will customize them to match the color and shape of your teeth.
- Dental cap or crown: If a large portion of the enamel is gone, your dentist may decide to cover the damaged tooth with a new, custom-made crown. The crown or cap restores bite function, improves oral health, and enhances your smile.
- Root canal: Cracks or chips that expose the tooth nerves or pulp or result in infection can be remedied with root canal therapy. The procedure is done to remove the infected pulp before placing a cap or crown over the treated tooth.
Offering Dental Solutions for a Healthier Smile
We specialize in general dentistry and tooth restoration procedures to give you that beautiful, healthy smile you desire. Emergency dental care is also available for patients in pain from an injured or broken tooth. For added protection, our certified dentists may recommend a mouthguard to prevent damage caused by teeth grinding.
If you are feeling any discomfort or you suspect you may have a damaged tooth, it is important to reach out to Kevin G. Jones, DDS and his dental team as soon as possible.