Enamel, or the hard outer covering of your teeth, is one of the strongest substances in your body. But it has limits. A strong blow or excessive wear can cause the teeth to splinter. The result is a dentate tooth surface that can be sharp, sensitive and disfiguring.
If your tooth splinters, you should visit a dentist immediately. If there is pain or bleeding, that will be especially important. Even if you do not feel pain but suspect that you have a chipped tooth, you should call a dentist as soon as possible.
You may not be able to see or evaluate the damage yourself accurately. Even if you do not feel pain at the moment, complications could develop after a few days or weeks.
Causes of chipped teeth
Teeth can come out for any number of reasons. The most common causes include:
- biting hard substances, such as ice or hard candy
- Falls or car accidents
- playing contact sports without mouth guard
- grinding your teeth when you sleep
It makes sense that weakened teeth are more likely to splinter than strong teeth. Some things that reduce the strength of a tooth include:
Dental caries and cavities eat enamel. Large fillings also tend to weaken the teeth.
- The grinding of the teeth can wear out the enamel.
- Eating many acid-producing foods, such as fruit juices, coffee and spicy foods can damage the enamel and leave the surface of the teeth exposed.
- Acid reflux or heartburn, two digestive conditions, can bring stomach acid to the mouth, where they can damage tooth enamel.
- Eating disorders or excessive consumption of alcohol can cause frequent vomiting, which in turn can produce acid that eats the enamel.
- Sugar produces bacteria in the mouth and these bacteria can attack the enamel.
- Dental enamel wears out over time, so if you are 50 years old or older, the risk of enamel weakened increases. In a study published in the Journal of Endodontics, almost two-thirds of those with broken teeth had more than 50.
How to care for a chipped or broken tooth
If your tooth is broken, chipped or fractured, consult your dentist as soon as possible. Otherwise, your tooth may be damaged more or become infected, possibly leading to tooth loss.
Meanwhile, try the following personal care procedures:
- If your tooth hurts, take acetaminophen or another pain reliever without a prescription . Wash your mouth with seawater.
- If the break has caused a sharp or irregular edge, cover it with a piece of paraffin or sugar-free chewing gum to prevent it from cutting your tongue or inside your lip or cheek.
- If you must eat, eat soft foods and avoid biting the damaged tooth.
Chipped teeth repair procedure
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on the severity of the damage. If only a small piece of enamel was broken, repair service can usually be done simply in an office. A damaged or broken tooth may require a longer and more expensive procedure. Here are some ways in which your dentist could repair your broken or chipped tooth.
Dental or Adhesive Filler
If you have really ripped a piece of tooth enamel, your dentist can repair the damage with a filling. If the repair service is for a front tooth or you can see it when you smile, your dentist is likely to use a treatment called adhesion, which uses a composite resin of tooth color.
The union is a basic treatment that normally does not require tooth numbness. To join a tooth, the dentist first records its surface area with a liquid or gel to harden it and make the bonding product respect it. Next, the dental expert uses an adhesive material for the tooth, followed by the bonding material. After shaping the bonding material to resemble a natural tooth, the dental expert uses an ultraviolet light to solidify the product during the chipped tooth repair procedure.
Related Article: Classification review of dental adhesive systems
Dental cap or crown
If a large piece of tooth is broken or the tooth has a lot of decay, the dental expert can grind or remove part of the tooth that remains and cover it with a dental crown, or a tooth-shaped cap, made to secure the tooth and improve its appearance. The permanent crowns can be made of metal, porcelain fused in metal, resin or ceramic. The different types have different positive aspects. The metal crowns are the strongest. Porcelain and resin crowns may seem almost similar to the initial tooth.
If the entire upper part of the tooth is broken but the root is not damaged, the dentist or an endodontist (a dental professional who focuses on the root) channels can perform a root canal treatment and place a pin or post in the canal , and then build a sufficient structure on which a crown can be made. Later, the dentist can cement the crown on the pin or the post-retained restoration.
To obtain a crown normally two controls are needed for the dental professional’s workplace. During the first consultation, your dentist can take x-rays to inspect the roots of the tooth and the surrounding bone. If no more problems are detected, the dentist will numb the tooth and the surrounding gum and then she will get rid of enough teeth to make a crown. If a break or splinter has left a large part of the missing tooth, your dental professional can use a filling product to build the tooth to hold the crown. Next, your dentist will use a material similar to a putty to give the impression that the tooth will join the crown along with the opposite tooth (the one that will touch when you bite). The prints are sent to a laboratory where the crown is made. Meanwhile, your dentist can place a temporary crown made of acrylic or thin metal.
During the 2nd time, usually two or three weeks later, your dental expert will remove the temporary crown and inspect the length adjustment – first before cementing it permanently in place.
Some dental workplaces, however, have a special innovation of digital milling that allows them to make a crown the same day without taking a putty impression.
If the front tooth is broken or chipped, a dental veneer can make it look full and healthy once more. A dental veneer is a thin layer of porcelain or resin composite material that covers the entire front of the tooth (similar to an incorrect nail covering a nail) with a thicker area to change the broken part of the tooth.
To prepare your tooth, your dental expert will remove 0.3 to 1.2 millimeters of enamel from your surface. Next, the dental professional will make an impression of the tooth that will be sent to a dental laboratory, which will do the veneer. When the veneer is prepared, usually one or two weeks later, you will have to return to the dentist to place it. To place the veneer, your dentist will first record the surface of the tooth with a liquid to apply roughness. The dentist then applies a unique cement to the veneer and places the veneer on the ready tooth. Once the veneer is in position, your dentist will use a single light to activate the chemicals in the cement so that it solidifies quickly.
Related Articles: What is the Procedure for Porcelain Veneers?
If a piece of tooth or break is large enough to expose the pulp, the center of the tooth that consists of nerves and blood vessels: germs from the mouth can enter and contaminate the pulp. If the tooth damages, modifies the color or is vulnerable to heat, it is likely that the pulp is damaged or diseased. The tissue of the pulp can disappear and, if it is not removed, the tooth can become infected and it is necessary to extract it. Root canal therapy includes removing the dead pulp, cleaning the root canal and then sealing it.
Root canal therapy can be performed by basic dental professionals or specialists called endodontists. Many root canals disappear in agony instead of having a full cavity. In most cases, the continuation of the tooth should be covered with a crown to protect the now weakened tooth.