A chipped tooth can be anything from a minor nuisance to a serious emergency. For our purposes in this article, we will consider instances in which people chip a front tooth as opposed to cases of cracked or broken teeth anywhere in the mouth. There are different considerations based on where the tooth is located and what causes the chipping.
We will cover the important things you need to know should you or a loved one experience a chipped front tooth.
What Causes Teeth To Chip?
In general, we can classify the causes of chipped teeth into three broad categories. These are the most common underlying causes of chipped teeth.
- Trauma to the Face or Mouth
A forceful blow to the face or mouth will often cause a chipped tooth or teeth. Car accidents, sports injuries, or physical altercations can result in trauma to the teeth. Teeth are very hard and strong, but they can break under a force that is strong enough.
- Chronic Damage From Clenching or Grinding
When someone clenches or grinds his or her teeth frequently, this causes something we call microtrauma. Unlike the single large force that causes a break in the tooth described in the previous section, microtrauma is the accumulation of small amounts of force over a sustained period of time. Clenching and/or grinding during sleep damages the teeth slowly, leading to weakening and eventual chipping of the enamel.
When a tooth has a cavity, the outer layer of enamel can become undermined by soft decay underneath. This leads to a weak shell of tooth structure that can chip or break under even normal chewing forces.
Can A Cracked Tooth Be Repaired with Dental Treatments?
The treatment for a chipped tooth depends on the extent of the chip. Tiny chipping that causes a sharp or jagged edge may require only some smoothing and reshaping of the tooth. Often the dentist can rebuild a moderate-sized chipped tooth with tooth-colored composite resin filling material.
If an injury causes the loss of a significant amount of tooth structure, more extensive treatment could be necessary. In some cases, the break extends into the tooth’s hollow nerve chamber, exposing it to bacteria and infection. These teeth require removal of the nerve via root canal treatment followed by full coverage of the tooth with a dental crown.
In rare cases, the injury to a tooth can cause a fracture of the tooth’s root underneath the gums. This type of damage does not respond well to treatment, so the prognosis is poor or hopeless. These teeth require extraction and replacement with a bridge or dental implant.
How To Prevent Broken Teeth?
Because chipped teeth are so unpredictable, it is best to prevent them whenever possible. Obviously, no one plans to injure himself, but we can take protective measures in high-risk situations.
Athletes at risk of facial injuries from contact sports should always wear an athletic mouthguard. A custom-made professional mouthguard protects the teeth and surrounding soft tissues, as well as the jaw joints, from serious damage.
If you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, your dentist will be able to spot visible evidence of this inside your mouth. Anyone with this habit can protect the teeth from microtrauma and its associated damage by wearing a professional nightguard during sleep. Nightguards often serve dual purposes of acting as retainers to maintain tooth position and protect teeth from heavy clenching or grinding forces.
Almost all tooth decay is preventable. Make sure you are following a good oral hygiene regimen at home and seeing your dentist consistently for professional teeth cleanings and examinations. Avoid acidic and sugary beverages, and drink plenty of plain water. You can prevent cavities!
More Questions about What To Do If You Chip A Tooth? Call Rockland Dental Today!
Call Rockland Dental Specialists at (845)-259-2500 or contact us and schedule a visit with one of our dental experts. We can answer any question you have about chipped teeth and assess your specific situation. We love helping all of our patients have completely healthy smiles!