It can be terrifying to bite down on your dinner and realize a moment later that the hard chip in your mouth has come off of your tooth. We sometimes think of our teeth as indestructible, and we certainly put them through so much wear and tear that they can seem that way. But chipped teeth are fairly common, and if you end up with one, it’s important to know what to do, even if it’s a slightly chipped tooth.

A man whose smile has a chipped front tooth

Why Do Teeth Chip?

It’s certainly possible for perfectly healthy teeth to chip, like as a result of an accident or a fall. And of course, certain foods are hard on our teeth, and biting down at the wrong angle could be too much for even a strong tooth to withstand.

But decay can make your teeth even more likely to break by weakening the enamel that normally protects them. This is why if your dentist spots a cavity, they will remove it and replace it with a filling to keep your teeth strong — but an untreated cavity could put you at a much higher risk of chips and cracks.

And, of course, if you have an imbalanced bite due to TMJ or other conditions, it may put excessive force on an individual tooth, making it more likely to chip or crack.

What To Do With a Chipped Tooth

If you notice that you have a small chipped tooth, step one is to determine the extent of the damage. Some tooth chips will be completely painless, but others may cause pain when you bite down, or may even bleed. If you are bleeding, the best thing to do is rinse your mouth with warm water and then apply gauze. If the chipped tooth has become sharp, you may want to apply a small amount of wax or chewing gum over the point to prevent cutting your tongue on the sharp edge.

Regardless of the severity of the chip, the next step is to see your dentist. A small chipped tooth may seem unimportant, but it could grow worse over time, and there may be further damage that you can’t detect. Your dentist can gauge the severity of the chip and let you know whether or not it requires any treatment.

If you have a small chip in a front tooth, you may want to receive treatment sooner than later so you don’t feel embarrassed about your smile. Please contact our dental office the moment you notice a tiny chip in the tooth.

Restoring a Chipped Tooth

Of course, even a painless chipped front tooth could be unpleasant if it affects the appearance of your smile. If tooth damage is keeping you from having the smile you want, there are plenty of options to correct a chipped tooth.

For a slightly chipped tooth, dental bonding could be the perfect solution. This subtle procedure uses a liquid composite resin custom tinted to match your teeth. Your dentist will sculpt this resin to fill the chip in your tooth and then cure it with a special UV light. When well cared for, dental bonding can last for 5 to 10 years.

If your chip is a little more serious, or you want a longer-lasting result, a porcelain veneer may be a better choice. This thin ceramic facade will both cover and strengthen your teeth, giving it a fresh new appearance. We can even customize it to match your smile. Porcelain veneers can last 10 to 20 years.

If the chipped tooth has compromised the structural integrity of the tooth, we may recommend a dental crown for extra strength.

Chipped a tooth in Columbia, SC? Call (803) 781-9090 or contact us online to make an appointment with our experienced dentists.