Options in Restoring a Cracked or Chipped Tooth
If you have ever been chewing on a piece of ice or hard candy and realized that you suddenly cracked or chipped your tooth, you probably immediately felt a sense of dread. It can be worrying to think about what you’re going to have to do to fix your tooth. However, if you are armed with some basic information about your options, it can help to remove some of your fears and get you back in action.
What Happens When You Damage a Tooth?
Before you can understand how the tooth can be fixed, it is important to understand how the damage occurred and what actually happened to the tooth. Your tooth is covered with enamel. The enamel that covers the tooth is the hardest mineralized substance in the body, so it takes considerable force to damage or break the enamel.
Unfortunately, this can happen from impacts, pressure, or from wear or deterioration of the enamel. If the force has been great enough to damage or crack the enamel, it is possible that the underlying tooth also has sustained some damage. This means that it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist so that they can accurately assess the damage and make sure to fix any issues before problems can grow.
Before Your Appointment
A damaged tooth is at an increased risk for infection or decay, so you should get into your dentist as soon as possible. However, in the event that you can’t be seen immediately, you can do a few things to help protect the tooth and reduce your own discomfort.
Use a pain reliever – Over the counter medications can help to reduce pain and inflammation that may be caused by your damaged tooth
Cover the tooth – You may need to cover the tooth to protect it from anything getting inside. You can use a sugarless gum to cover the tooth or a piece of wax paraffin to cover the damaged tooth.
Avoid Foods – If you need to eat before you get into the dentist, be cautious about chewing on that tooth. If possible, chew your food on the opposite side of the mouth to avoid further damaging your tooth.
Your options for repair will vary based on the type of damage that you sustained. Your dentist can help guide you toward the best option for your case, but there are a few standard procedures that you could expect to discuss.
Dental Fillings or Bondings – If you have a small chip or crack, your dentist may suggest a filling or bonding. Bondings are tooth-colored plastic resins that can be shaped and molded to look just like a natural tooth. Your dentist may use this procedure to help repair the tooth, and it is typically one of the best options available.
Dental Cap or Crown – If more of the tooth has come off or a dental bond isn’t appropriate, your dentist may recommend a cap or a crown. This procedure prepares the tooth and then places a permanent crown that fits over the tooth. A crown is specially designed to fit over the tooth so that it doesn’t change your bite pattern.
Veneers – Veneers can be used to help cover minor damage or cracks. Porcelain veneers fit onto the surface of the tooth and can help protect and hide any damage.
Root Canal or Extraction – In more extreme cases, a dentist may need to perform a root canal. This procedure is necessary when the interior pulp of the tooth has been damaged or infected, and the dentist needs to clear any infection from your mouth. If extraction is necessary, your dentist can also suggest options to replace the missing tooth.
Cracked and chipped teeth certainly aren’t any fun, but understanding what your next steps should be can help remove some of the stress from the process. If you have a cracked or chipped tooth, call our office to schedule an appointment today.