There’s never a good time for dental issues like chipped or cracked teeth, but they can and do happen—often when we least expect it. When they do, it’s essential to know how to manage these issues while also seeking professional help effectively.
This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to deal with chipped or cracked teeth.
What Is a Chipped and Cracked Teeth?
A chipped tooth refers to a condition where a small piece of tooth enamel has fallen off. This can happen due to a number of reasons including biting on a hard object, physical trauma, or even tooth decay which has weakened the enamel. The damage is often superficial, only involving the hardened outer layer of the tooth referred to as enamel.
On the other hand, a cracked tooth involves more serious damage. It’s not limited to the tooth’s surface but rather extends to affect other parts of the tooth’s structure, such as the dentin or even the tooth’s pulp. The effects of a cracked tooth are often more severe, showcasing symptoms that may include pain, tooth sensitivity, and, in some cases, visible cracks on the tooth’s surface.
What Are the Causes of Chipped or Cracked Tooth?
Chipped teeth are common dental injuries, especially for athletes, active children, and clumsy foodies who bite silverware instead of food now and then. A fall, biting down on a hard morsel, or receiving an impact on the mouth when we least expect it can also leave us with a chipped or broken tooth. You might not even know you’ve chipped a tooth because small ones might not cause immediate discomfort.
Here are the most common causes of a chipped or cracked tooth:
Biting Down on Hard Foods or Objects. Biting down on hard foods like ice, hard candies, or even non-food items like pens can cause your teeth to chip or crack.
Sports Injuries. Contact sports or any physical activity where a blow to the face is possible can lead to cracked or chipped teeth. This is especially likely if you’re not wearing a mouthguard.
Grinding Your Teeth. Chronic teeth grinding (bruxism) can wear down your teeth over time, making them more susceptible to cracking or chipping.
Large Fillings. Large fillings can weaken the structure of the tooth, making it more prone to cracking or chipping.
Sudden Temperature Changes in Your Mouth. Eating something hot and then immediately consuming something very cold can cause a phenomenon known as “thermal shock,” which can lead to cracked teeth.
Age. Teeth can become more brittle with age, increasing the risk of chipping or cracking.
Untreated Cavities. Cavities weaken the structure of the tooth. If left untreated, they can lead to the tooth becoming chipped or cracked.
How Can You Apply First Aid for Tooth Chips and Cracks?
Step 1: Rinse and Repeat
As a first step, rinse your mouth with warm salt water. This routine can help sanitize the affected area, promote healing, and soothe potential irritation. Formulate a rinse by dissolving half a teaspoon of salt in eight ounces of warm water.
Step 2: Bite Down on Gauze
If there’s any bleeding, gently yet firmly bite down on a piece of clean gauze until the bleeding stops. Should the bleeding persist beyond 10 minutes, seeking immediate medical attention is advisable.
Step 3: Pain Management
If the toothache kicks in, which is possible, use over-the-counter pain relievers. Aspirin, ibuprofen, or paracetamol can help relieve the pain. Apply a cold pack or ice cubes to the affected area to minimize swelling.
Step 4: Temporary Dental Filling
A temporary dental filling or cement can temporarily relieve cases where your tooth has a small chip and a jagged edge, and you can’t immediately visit the dentist. These are available in most drugstores.
Step 5: Avoid Certain Foods
Until you can get professional treatment, be careful about what you eat. Avoid hard foods that might worsen the damage and resist biting down on the chipped or cracked tooth. Stick to soft foods and try to chew on the other side of your mouth.
Step 6: Don’t Forget the Broken Pieces
If you can find any pieces of your broken tooth fragment, save them. Rinse them gently with warm water, place them in a small container, and take them to the dentist. In some cases, they can be reattached to your tooth.
When Should I Go to the Emergency Dentist for a Cracked or Chipped Tooth?
Consistent severe pain or sharp pain spikes, when you bite down could be signs of a critical crack or fracture in your tooth. This kind of pain is a clear signal that you need immediate medical attention to prevent further damage and alleviate your discomfort.
While some bleeding isn’t uncommon with a chipped or cracked tooth or has a rough edge, if it is heavy or doesn’t stop after applying pressure with a clean cloth for 10 to 15 minutes, it’s time to visit an emergency dentist.
Loss of Tooth
This is undoubtedly a dental emergency if your entire tooth has been completely knocked out. The tooth can sometimes be reattached; however, this is only possible if treatment is sought immediately.
If you notice an increase in swelling in your mouth or face after cracking or chipping a tooth, this could be a symptom of an infection or abscess. It’s essential to address this issue immediately by visiting a dentist, as infections can escalate quickly and could potentially be life-threatening.
Visible damage to your tooth could indicate a larger issue that requires immediate attention. If the structure or shape of your tooth has significantly changed due to the damage, it’s crucial to visit a dentist immediately to prevent further complications.
If your cracked or chipped tooth experiences severe sensitivity to temperature changes or tastes, the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels may have become exposed. This merits an immediate dental visit to help protect sensitive teeth.
What Are the Dental Treatments for Chipped or Cracked Teeth?
Here are some treatment options your dentist can recommend for chipped or cracked teeth:
1. Dental Bonding or Filling
If there is a minor chip, your dentist might repair the damage by placing a filling over a fractured tooth. If you’ve damaged a visible front tooth, the dentist might use bonding, which involves applying a tooth-colored composite resin and meticulously shaping it to look natural.
2. Cosmetic Contouring
This technique is used in cases where the chip or crack is relatively small, causing only minor damage. The dentist smooths and polishes the chipped or cracked area, restoring the appearance of your tooth to perfection – a process referred to as cosmetic contouring.
3. Dental Veneers
Dental veneers are a fantastic option if your cracked or chipped tooth is highly visible. These thin shells of tooth-colored porcelain are placed on the front of teeth to improve their appearance. These can be made from porcelain or composite resin materials.
For more extensive damage where a large piece of the tooth has broken off, your dentist may grind away some part of the remaining tooth structure and cover it with a crown designed to protect it and improve its appearance like the original tooth.
There are two kinds of dental crowns you can get:
- Permanent Crowns. These come in various materials, from resin to porcelain to metal crowns. They are designed to last up to 25 years with proper care.
- Temporary crowns. These are usually made of stainless steel or acrylic. They’re generally used temporarily until the permanent crown is ready.
5. Root Canal Therapy
If a crack has extended into the tooth’s pulp that contains nerves and blood vessels, bacteria in the mouth can enter and infect the pulp. If your tooth hurts, changes color, or becomes sensitive to heat, the pulp is likely damaged or diseased. In this case, extensive treatment, like a root canal, is necessary.
6. Dental Implant Procedure
If the tooth is severely cracked and saving it isn’t possible, extraction may be necessary. Your dentist might then recommend replacing the extracted tooth with a dental implant — a solution that looks and functions like a natural tooth.
Ensure Your Teeth’s Health: Make Your Dental Appointment Now
The road to fast recovery from a chipped or cracked tooth starts with understanding the issue, continues with immediate first aid and professional treatment, and is maintained by adopting preventive measures. If you don’t know what to do with a chipped tooth or cracked tooth or want to prevent one, this guide gives you the necessary knowledge and inspires you to prioritize your oral health.
Don’t wait until it’s too late! Contact Azure Dental today to schedule your regular check-up or if you’re dealing with how to fix a chipped tooth or cracked tooth. Remember, your oral health is our priority. We’re here to ensure your smile stays radiant. Book your appointment now.