Certain injuries or trauma can cause a Chipped Tooth.

Your teeth contain enamel, which is the outermost layer of the tooth. It is important to note that it is one of the strongest substances in your body.

However, a forceful blow or excessive wear and tear can cause your teeth to chip.

This results in a jagged tooth surface that can either be sharp, tender, or disfiguring.

Moreover, a chipped tooth can not only be an issue for your overall oral health, that affects the roots of your teeth and appearance, however, they can also be painful.

A chipped tooth or a cracked tooth can cause pain when chewing or exposed to hot or cool temperatures.

Pain can occur erratically as well.

In some cases, you may have symptoms, however, a fracture or a missing piece of the tooth can also be visible.

Keep on reading to learn more about it in detail.

Causes of a Chipped Tooth

There are a number of reasons that can cause a chipped tooth.

Some of the common causes of what can cause a tooth to the chip are:

  • biting down on hard substances like ice or hard candy
  • falls or car accidents

chipped tooth 2

  • playing contact sports
  • grinding your teeth while you are asleep

Risk Factors for a Chipped Tooth

Weak teeth are more likely to chip than strong teeth. Certain factors, however, that can reduce the strength of a tooth are as follows:

Tooth decay and cavities eat away the enamel, while large fillings also tend to weaken your teeth.

Teeth grinding can cause wear and tear to the enamel.

Moreover, when you consume a lot of acid-producing foods like fruit juices, coffee, and spicy foods, it can break down the enamel.

And this can leave the surface of your teeth exposed.

It is important to note that acid reflux or heartburn, two digestive conditions can also bring stomach acid up into your mouth, and it can lead to damage to the tooth enamel.

chipped tooth 3

Eating disorders or excessive use of alcohol can cause frequent vomiting. This in turn can produce enamel-eating acid.

Furthermore, sugar produces bacteria in your mouth and these bacteria can attack the enamel.

Tooth enamel tends to wear down over time, therefore, if you are 50 years of age or older, your risk of having weakened tooth enamel increases.

According to a study in the Journal of Endodontics, nearly two-thirds of those with cracked teeth were over 50 years of age.

Which teeth are more at Risk?

It is important to note that any weakened tooth is at a risk.

However, according to a study, the second lower molar. This is because it takes a fair amount of pressure when chewing and teeth with filling are most prone to chipping.

With that, intact teeth are also subject to chipping as well.

Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth

In case the chip on your tooth is minor and not in front of your mouth, then you may not know that you have it at all.

When you do have the symptoms, however, they may include the following:

Feeling a jagged surface when you tend to run your tongue over the teeth.

chipped tooth 1

Irritation of the gum around the chipped tooth.

Irritation of your tongue from “catching” it on the uneven tooth and rough edge.

Moreover, pain from pressure on the tooth while biting can also be intense if the chip is near to or exposes to the nerves of the tooth.

Chipped vs. Cracked Tooth

You may find a cracked and a chipped tooth to be similar, however, they both are different.

A crack in your tooth often starts near the gum line and spreads toward the chewing surface.

Though your tooth tends to remain intact, a fracture line may become visible across the tooth.

In some cases, however, the fracture is only visible using a microscope and your dentist will have to find it.

In other cases, the crack may also extend through the entire tooth from the chewing surface to the root, i.e. the part of the tooth inside the bone socket.

On the other hand, a chipped tooth is a tooth that is broken.

A small or large piece may have been knocked off through a fall, sports injury, or a trauma to the mouth, and it may even include biting something hard.

Treatment Options

Your dentist can diagnose a chipped tooth by visible inspection of your mouth.

They will also take into account the symptoms and ask about the events that may have caused the chipping.

Treatment of a chipped tooth often depends on its location, severity, and the symptoms you experience.

Unless it is causing severe pain and significantly interfering with eating and sleeping, it is not a medical emergency.

However, you should make sure to make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to avoid any infection or further damage to the tooth.

Your dentist can simply treat minor chips by smoothing and polishing your tooth.

However, for more extensive chips, your doctor may recommend the following:

Tooth Reattachment and Bonding

Let’s discuss these two options as follows:

Tooth Reattachment

In case you still have a tooth fragment that broke off, places a glass of milk to keep it moist.

The calcium will help to keep it alive. However, if you do not have milk tunk into your gum, make sure to not swallow it.

Make sure to visit your dentist immediately and they may be able to cement the fragment back onto your tooth.

Bonding

With the help of composite resin, i.e. plastic material, or porcelain, i.e. layers of ceramic, your dentist can cement it to the surface of your tooth and shape to its form.

bonding

Your dentist will then use ultraviolet light to harden and dry the material.

After drying it, they will do more shaping until the material fits your tooth exactly.

Moreover, it is important to note that dental bonding can last up to 10 years.

Porcelain Veneers

Before attaching a veneer, your dentist will first smooth away some of the enamel of your tooth to make enough room for the veneer.

In most cases, they will shave away at least less than a millimeter of your tooth.

Your dentist will then make an impression on your tooth and send it to the lab so that they can create a veneer.

veneers

In some cases, however, they may place a temporary veneer to prevent further damage.

When the permanent veneer is ready for placement, your dentist will bond it to your tooth.

Due to the durable materials it uses, the veneers can last for about 30 years.

Dental Onlays

In case the chip only affects a part of your tooth, your dentist may suggest getting a dental onlay.

They will apply it to the surface of your molars, however, if the damage to your tooth is significant, your dentist may recommend a full dental crown.

In most cases, your doctor will take a mold of your tooth and send it to the lab so that they can create the onlay.

Once they have the onlay, they will fit it onto your tooth and then cement it on.

dental onlays

With advances in technology, some dentists may mill porcelain onlays right in the office and place them that day.

Moreover, dental onlays can also last for decades, however, a lot depends on whether you eat a lot of food that put wear and tear on the onlay and what tooth was affected.

For instance, one that gets a lot of pressure when you chew like a molar will wear more easily.

Self-Care for Chipped Tooth

While you will most likely need a dentist to repair chips in your tooth, the following are certain steps you can take to reduce injury to the tooth until you see your doctor.

  • place a temporary dental filling material, a teabag, sugar-free gum, or dental ax over the jagged edge of the tooth so that you can protect your tongue and gums
  • take an anti-inflammatory painkiller like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, IB) in case of pain
  • place ice on the outside of your cheek if the chipped tooth is causing irritation to the area

mouth guard

  • floss to help remove the food that gets caught between your teeth, which can cause even more pressure on your chipped tooth while you chew
  • make sure to avoid chewing using the chipped tooth
  • swipe clove oil around any painful gums to numb the area
  • wear a protective mouth guard when you play sports or at night if you grind your teeth

Possible Complications of a Chipped Tooth

In case the chip is too extensive that it starts to affect the root of your tooth, the infection can ensue.

With the help of treatment, i.e. root canal, your dentist can help.

Some of the symptoms of an infection are:

Dental Costs

The cost of your treatment varies greatly by hat part of the county you live in. Some other factors that can play are role in the extent of the chip, and whether the pulp of the tooth is affected or not.

Generally, though the following is what may need to understand:

Tooth Planing or Smoothing: Depends on the location of the tooth

Tooth reattachment: For this you will have to pay for the dental exam, however, because tooth reattachment does not require much in the  way of materials, the charges are minimal

Bonding: The cost depends on the complexity it involves

Veneers or Onlays: The cost of this treatment depends on the material your dentist will use and how much they need to prepare the tooth before affixing the veneer/crown

Summary

A chipped tooth is a common dental injury. In most cases, it does not produce significant pain and your dentist can successfully treat it using a variety of dental procedures.

While many dentists do not consider it a dental emergency, the sooner you get the treatment, the better your chances of limiting any dental problems. Moreover, recovery is generally fast once the dental procedure is complete.