A broken or chipped tooth needs immediate dental care, but do not panic if you treat breaks or chips. Different options are available to repair a broken tooth or chipped tooth, and your dentist will offer you a suitable treatment.
The enamel is the protective and outer layer of the teeth. It is the most mineralised and hardest body tissue but has certain limits. Different things can lead to the damage of your enamel, such as chewing on crunchy food or ice. The damage may also result from receiving a blow, accidents or falling, leading to a cracked or chipped teeth.
If you already have a decayed tooth, it becomes easy for small accidents to break or chip your tooth. A broken or chipped tooth needs immediate dental care, but do not panic if you treat breaks or chips. Different options are available to repair a broken tooth or chipped tooth, and your dentist will offer you a suitable treatment.
Caring for your broken or chipped tooth
If you have a fractured, broken or chipped tooth, ensure you visit your dentist immediately to prevent further damage to the tooth and infection, which may lead to loss of the tooth.
While you wait for your appointment with the doctor, you can try these self-care tips.
- Take acetaminophen or any over-the-counter pain relief medication, then use salt water to rinse your mouth
- If you want to eat, take soft foods that do not require biting down on the broken or chipped tooth
- If the affected tooth has a jagged or sharp edge, cover it with sugarless chewing gum or paraffin wax to prevent the edge from cutting inside your check or lips and tongue
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth
The treatment for your chipped or broken teeth will depend on the severity of the damage. If only a small part of your enamel broke off, you might get a suitable treatment in one visit, but a severely damaged tooth may require a costly procedure that requires several visits.
- Dental bonding and filling
If a small part of your enamel chipped or broke off, your dentist may fill the affected area of the tooth, but when the damage is visible when you smile, your dentist may carry out dental bonding, which involves attaching a tooth-coloured composite resin to the affected area.
Dental bonding does not require an anaesthetic or numbing agent. This simple procedure involves the dentist etching the surface of the affected tooth with a gel or liquid, which roughens the tooth surface and makes the bonding material adhere to the tooth. After the etching, your dentist will apply an adhesive on the tooth, attach the tooth-coloured composite resin, and then shape it to fit your natural tooth and use UV light to harden the composite resin.
- Dental crowns and caps
If you have severely decayed teeth or a large piece of the teeth breaks off, your dentist may file off the remaining part, then cover it with a tooth-shaped crown or dental cap. Dental caps and crowns can protect the teeth and improve their appearance.
Different types of permanent crowns are available depending on the material used to make them. You may get porcelain fused to metal crown, all resin, all-ceramic, or metal crown. The different types of dental crowns have different benefits.
All-metal crowns are the most durable, while resin and porcelain crowns can fit and look like your natural teeth.
If the top of your tooth completely breaks off, but the root is still in place, your endodontist or dentist may offer root canal therapy and insert a post or pin in your canal to build a structure that can support the crown. Afterwards, the dentist will cement the crown over the post or pin-retained restoration.
You will require two visits to the dentist to get a crown. The first visit involves the dentist taking x-rays of your teeth and mouth to check the tooth root and surrounding bones. If the dentist does not detect other dental problems, they will numb the affected tooth and surrounding gum before removing the remaining tooth to create a space for the crown.
If a large part of your tooth is damaged or broken, the dentist may need to fill the tooth to build it and provide sufficient support for the crown. The next step is taking the affected and surrounding teeth impression with a putty-like material to make your crown. Your dentist may offer you a temporary thin metal or acrylic crown while you wait for the permanent crown.
On your second visit, which would be two or three weeks later, the dentist will remove the temporary crown and then check the permanent dental crown's fit before cementing it to your tooth.
A few dental clinics use a special digital milling technology that allows them to make a dental crown on the same day without using a putty-like material to take your teeth impression. Some dental offices also use intra-oral scanners, which create a digital impression of the tooth they send to the lab to create your dental crown.
- Dental veneers
If the front of your tooth chips or breaks, you can use dental veneers to restore the tooth and make it look beautiful again. Dental veneers are thin-shelled resin or porcelain composite material used to cover the front of damaged teeth. They are usually tooth-coloured and have a section to cover the broken part of each damaged tooth.
The dentist will need to prepare the affected tooth before fitting the veneers by removing about 0.3 – 1.2 mm of the enamel. The next step is taking your teeth impression, which the dentist will send to the lab to make the dental veneer.
The veneer would be ready in one week or two, and then you will visit the dental office for its placement. The dentist will use a special liquid to etch your tooth, making it rough for the veneer placement. Your dentist will apply a cement material to the veneer and place it on the etched tooth. When the veneer is in place, your dentist will use a special light to harden the cement.
- Root canal therapy
If the chip or break exposes the pulp, which is the centre of the tooth, housing the blood vessels and nerves, it will get infected by the bacteria in your mouth. A damaged pulp may result in tooth sensitivity to heat, colour change or tooth pain. The tissues in the pulp can die, and if left untreated, the teeth will get infected and need extraction.
A root canal treatment will remove the dead tissues in the pulp and clean the tooth. Your dentist or endodontist can perform the root canal treatment. This treatment is not painful, and you may need to cover the tooth with a crown to protect it.
If your tooth gets broken or chipped, ensure you seek immediate dental care. You can contact your nearest 24 hour emergency dentists to get immediate care during dental emergency, including a broken or chipped tooth.
Emergency Dentist London is always available to handle any dental emergency. Feel free to call us now on 020 71832793 to schedule an appointment with our emergency dentist.