Everyone wants a perfect smile, but maintaining that pearly white grin can be tough. From staining to damage, it can be very easy for you to lose that smile, and a chipped tooth is one of the most common reasons for requiring cosmetic dentistry.
Even if individuals maintain strong oral health and brush and floss daily, a chipped tooth can easily occur. From biting down on something hard to facing an impact, there are many ways your smile can be impacted. In this blog, we thought we would take a closer look at some of the most common reasons for a chipped tooth and what you can do to fix it.
What causes a chipped tooth?
Anyone can experience a chipped tooth, although it does tend to occur more frequently in older people. There is a wide range of reasons that can cause your teeth to crack or chip, with some of the most common including:
- Chewing or biting on something hard
- Sports injury
- Impact during a car accident
- Tooth decay
- Weakened enamel
- Acid reflux
- A compromised immune system
- Certain medications
- Eating disorder
Of course, these are just a handful of reasons why your teeth could become chipped. While a fall or unavoidable injury is often the most common cause, poor dental hygiene can also lead to your teeth weakening. In recent years, stress has also been one of the most common reasons patients have required cosmetic dentistry, with research finding that there was a 53% increase in cracked or chipped teeth due to emotional stress.
How to fix a chipped tooth
Thankfully, although a chipped tooth can be incredibly worrying, it can often be fixed with a simple cosmetic procedure. Modern innovations ensure that dentists are able to restore almost every smile, and there is a range of options available to you, including:
One of the most common methods of repairing a chipped tooth is through dental bonding. This is a very minimally invasive and cost-effective treatment, which can quickly help you to get your smile back.
The dentist will apply a composite bonding directly to your tooth, choosing a color that matches your existing smile. They will then carefully shape the resin so that it looks realistic before hardening it with a special light. This is a painless procedure and requires no numbing agents; however, it does not last forever, and patients might need to have a follow-up after several years.
Sometimes, a chipped tooth can cause a lot more damage to your tooth, especially if left untreated. A deep enough crack or chip can allow bacteria to enter the pulp chamber, which kills the nerve. In this instance, the tooth is often beyond repair and will require extraction.
To keep your smile looking its best, a dental implant will replace the missing tooth and prevent periodontal disease or bone loss. This procedure requires a titanium post to be inserted into the jaw bone before a crown or bridge is installed over the top.
If the damage is extensive, then dental bonding might not be the best course of action, and instead, a dental crown can be fitted. This is a permanent restoration technique and covers the entire tooth, providing protection and support. The vast majority of crowns are made from porcelain or metal, with the former often being used for teeth at the front of the mouth.
Many older patients will dread the thought of a crown, believing it will take multiple visits to the dentist. This is not the case, though, and thanks to modern advancements, many dental crowns can be fitted in a single visit to your cosmetic dentist.
Porcelain veneers are another popular permanent restoration technique, covering the front of the damaged tooth. Your dentist will need to prepare your tooth in order for the veneer to fit smoothly, but it is a minimally invasive procedure and can last for a very long time.
Once fitted, they look almost identical to your real teeth and can last for up to 20 years with correct dental hygiene.
Front teeth crowns vs. veneers
When it comes to restoration techniques for a chipped tooth, crowns, and veneers are fantastic options, but which is right for you?
Crowns are often used when the tooth is severely damaged. These are designed to protect the structure and prevent further damage from occurring.
If the tooth is still healthy and intact, then a veneer can be a great choice. Most suited for minimal chips, a veneer can also help to correct any natural discoloration or gaps in your smile.
Signs of a chipped tooth
The obvious sign of a chipped tooth is seeing part of it missing. Sometimes, though, the damage can be minimal, and it might not be so clear. Some common signs that your tooth might be cracked or chipped include:
- Pain, especially when chewing
- Sensitivity to temperatures
- Inflammation around the gum
If you are experiencing any of these, then a visit to your dentist will be able to confirm what is causing the issues. If they suspect it is cracked or damaged, then they will be able to recommend the right treatment for you.
How to care for a chipped tooth
If you have discovered a chipped tooth and need to wait several days before your dentist can see you, then there are some things you can do to reduce further damage, such as:
- Rinsing your mouth with warm saltwater to prevent bacteria from building up
- Using over-the-counter medicine to ease the pain
- Only eating soft foods to prevent further damage
- Use dental wax to cover any sharp edges
- Save broken pieces, as larger pieces can sometimes be salvaged
- Apply a cold compress to reduce bleeding
How to prevent a chipped tooth
Although a chipped tooth can often be unavoidable, there are some steps that you can take to reduce the risk and improve the strength of your teeth:
- Regularly brushing your teeth
- Flossing regularly
- Visit your dentist annually
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sports
- Use a nightguard to prevent damage from bruxism
- Avoid chewing hard foods
- Stop smoking
Noticing your teeth are damaged can be incredibly worrying, but it does not mean that your smile is permanently ruined. Cosmetic dentistry has advanced rapidly over the years, and visiting your dentist as soon as possible will ensure that they can repair your chipped tooth quickly and efficiently, allowing you to keep that beautiful grin.