You’re enjoying your favorite piece of cake when you suddenly feel a crunchy, rocky particle that won’t go away, no matter how hard you chew on it. It’s definitely not something you would normally find in a cake, so there’s only one reasonable answer – you have a chipped tooth.
Don’t panic! – that’s basically the first thing you need to do. It happens to almost all of us and, according to most dental experts, broken teeth (or chipped teeth) are extremely common. In fact, experts estimate that more than 40% of people will have at least one broken tooth incident during their lifetime
So why are chipped teeth so common?
Your teeth are covered by a protective enamel layer, which is one the toughest and most mineralized tissue in your body. Even though the enamel can withstand the daily chewing, as well as the acid and bacterial environment, it has its limits. This is particularly true if you already suffer from other dental conditions or have a poor oral hygiene. Tooth decay, for instance, is one of the dental conditions that can seriously damage your teeth, increasing the risk of cracks or chips tremendously. Also, chipped teeth may be a sign of other, more serious, underlying issues, such as diabetes, hypocalcemia (calcium deficiency) or other chronic diseases.
So what are the first things to do if you have a chipped tooth?
Now you know that having a chipped tooth is not the end of the world. It’s common, almost everyone can have it and this means your dentist will be able to treat it rapidly. Your first step, of course, is to see your dentist as soon as possible. If you are not able to see him, contact him/her by phone to explain your situation and ask for guidance. Typically, you should see a dental expert in less than 24 hours, so try to have an appointment the next morning. If you postpone this first visit to your dentist, the chipped tooth can become infected, which may require surgery or an extraction.
Before seeing your dentist, however, there are a few things you could try in order to relieve pain and clean the area:
- If the area is painful, you can take any basic painkiller available at drugstores. Acetaminophen is your best bet – it’s easily available and cheap,
- Try to clean the affected area by rinsing your mouth with lukewarm salty water or mouthwash. Don’t use a toothbrush to get to the broken tooth as it can further damage it,
- Protect the chipped tooth by covering it with a piece of sugarless chewing gum or a wax paraffin,
- Eat only soft, mushy foods and avoid biting on the chipped tooth
Which are the most common treatment methods for chipped teeth?
Fillings are some of the best ways to treat chipped teeth. Your dentist will try to repair the damaged area by filling it with a tooth-colored composite resin. This procedure is simple and doesn’t require numbing. Basically, the area is cleaned with a gel, etched with a special tool (to make sure the filling adheres to the surface of the tooth) and then the resin is carefully placed in the empty area. Your dentist will try to mimic the shape of the healthy tooth, thus making sure your bite returns to normal.
Dental crowns and caps
If the chipped area is large and there is additional damage, such as decay or inflammation, a more invasive procedure is commonly used. The damaged area is covered with a crown or a cap, depending on the size of the affected area. Permanent crowns can be made of porcelain, composite materials, metal or resins. Depending on your preferences, the dentist will choose what type of cap to go for, but generally the metal ones are the strongest.
Dental crowns are used if the entire top area of the tooth is damaged. This procedure requires a prior root canal intervention in order to create a structure for the crown. Then, the crown is cemented on the structure. Generally, your dentist will make an impression of the tooth before creating the crown. This will ensure that the crown will fit perfectly on the tooth and won’t cause any bite problems.
Veneers are a quick fix when you have multiple chipped teeth. They make your teeth look healthy and whole again in practically no time. Essentially, veneers are thin resin or porcelain shells that mimic perfectly your original teeth. They cover your damaged teeth and are easily installed after a relatively simple procedure. Your dentist will remove 0.3 millimeters of enamel and make an impression. After a one week waiting period, your veneers will be cemented on your teeth and your smile will be sparkling white again.
Chipped teeth are so common that most people will likely experience it at least once in their lifetime. Don’t panic, call a dentist, like Premier Smile, as soon as possible to set up an appointment. The treatment procedures are simple and you will be up and smiling in a matter of days.
About the author:
Flaviu Mircea is a freelance writer, with an interest into healthy living. He enjoys sharing articles and insight into better living. If you would like to learn more about Flaviu, you can check out his Google+ profile.