Chipped Tooth Repair

Chipped a Tooth? Don’t Worry – Here’s What to Do

broken tooth

A chipped tooth can be anywhere from really shallow and just lost enamel, to a full blown break just that trails into the gums. Sometimes a chipped tooth is nothing but a bit of a bother until the pain from the hit to the face abates. And sometimes a chipped tooth can cause a massive toothache, leave the tooth prone to breakage, and the root and nerve susceptible to infection.

Here’s the thing, though – even if it was just that little flake of enamel that flew off, you should go get the chipped tooth repaired. Even a barely cracked filling can compromise the health of the entire tooth. Bonding, veneers, or in the worst cases, implant crowns, are some of the best ways to seal that damaged area back off while also mimicking the original appearance and function of the tooth.

Methods of Repairing a Chipped Tooth or Cracked Filling

The treatment for a chipped tooth will be determined by the severity of the damage. If most of your tooth has broken off, or if the damage or decay is too great, chances are you’ll need a tooth extraction and a dental implant to replace the tooth. A tooth that is damaged enough, or damaged below the gum line, needs to be extracted and replaced to protect the rest of the teeth, as well as the gums and jaw, from damage and further infection.

But when just a small piece of the tooth breaks off, a qualified dentist can usually repair the tooth in one visit. The dentist will examine the tooth to be sure that the damage is not more extensive than a chip. A tooth with a simple below-the-gum line chip is best repaired with dental bonding, as opposed to more severe chips, which require tooth extraction and replacement.

Fillings for Chipped Teeth that aren’t Visible

The most common repair for a tooth that is chipped is a simple filling. Fillings involve removing the damage or decay from a tooth and reshaping/protecting it with a metal, porcelain or resin-based filling. If the chip was severe enough, your dentist might choose instead to cap the filled tooth with a crown.

If the tooth can be seen when you smile, the dentist will probably instead recommend a process commonly used in cosmetic dentistry called bonding. This process uses a composite resin that is tooth-colored. In the process of dental bonding, the dentist sculpts the resin to match the original shape of the tooth and then cures it with UV light, so typically the tooth does not require numbing.

The Details of Dental Bonding for Visibly Chipped Teeth

To bond the chipped tooth, the dentist etches the surface of the tooth so the bonding material will adhere to it. The purpose of the etching, which does not harm the tooth, is to roughen it so the bonding material will adhere to it more easily. After the etching is finished, the dentist will apply an adhesive material to the tooth. Next, a tooth-colored resin (the bonding) will be applied. The dentist will shape the bonding material to look just like the tooth. Finally, the bonding material will be hardened by an ultraviolet light.

This process restores the tooth to its original appearance and function. That’s why it’s such a popular choice for front teeth that are damaged. Some things to consider about dental bonding, though, is that the bonded part of your tooth cannot change shade; if you get teeth whitening done, your teeth will no longer match your bonding.

The other issue with bonding, as opposed to other solutions cosmetic dentistry has to offer, like veneers or implants, is that the resin material isn’t as strong as your real teeth. You’ll probably have to have the bonding redone every 5 to 10 years. Avoiding biting down hard, grinding your teeth and eating sticky foods can prevent you from cracking a new filling or dentally-bonded tooth.

Repairing Chipped Teeth with Extensive Decay

When a large piece of the tooth breaks off, or the tooth has a lot of decay, the repair procedure will be different. The dentist may need to grind part of the tooth away. In this instance, a tooth-shaped cap, or a crown, will need to be made in order to improve appearance and protect the tooth. Your dentist will determine the best way to repair the chipped tooth once they’ve removed all the decay.

If you have a cracked filling, a broken tooth – anything that exposes the inner layers of your tooth to the bacteria in your mouth – you’re in danger of infection, abscesses, further damage, etc. This is especially true of a broken tooth, which is why getting immediate chipped tooth repair is so important for your health.

Repairing a Chipped Front Tooth with Veneers

Dental bonding is often used as a less expensive alternative to getting a tooth veneer, though dental bonding isn’t quite as good at mimicking a real tooth the way tooth veneers do. A dental veneer can restore the tooth’s whole and healthy appearance. A dental veneer is a thin layer of tooth-colored porcelain material that covers the entire front of the tooth and is fit to perfectly match the surrounding teeth.

Another type of tooth veneer is done in a similar process to dental bonding, just more extensive. With composite tooth veneers, cracked, broken or discolored teeth are directly and completely covered with dental bonding the dentist shapes over your teeth. Like dental bonding to repair a chipped tooth, composite tooth veneers only last 5-7 years, whereas porcelain veneers last 10-15 if well taken care of.

Both kinds of tooth veneers are considered cosmetic dentistry because they don’t actually replace a tooth or restore a function. Simple dental bonding for smaller chips in teeth may serve a similar purpose as porcelain and composite veneers, but only replaces the missing part of the tooth by filling it and sculpting it to mimic the look of the original tooth.

Fixing a Cracked or Broken Filling

While it’s true that dental bonding is technically a cosmetic dental procedure, that’s not to say it serves no purpose. If you have an existing silver filling that’s cracked or broken, you can get it replaced with bonding, and all of a sudden there is no longer any way to tell you even have a filling.

Fillings can crack, break or become loose as they age, or because of an incident where it was impacted too hard. Even fillings with small cracks can leave the damaged tooth susceptible to further decay and the root and nerve of the tooth exposed to bacteria and debris from your mouth. Even if you feel no pain from a cracked or broken filling, it needs fixed ASAP.

In protecting the tooth from further decay, bonding is just as effective as traditional fillings at sealing the tooth, but matches the surrounding tooth exactly. A broken filling is just as urgent as a chipped tooth; both need repaired as soon as possible to prevent the exposed part of the tooth from further damage.

Cracked Tooth Syndrome: Repairing Microscopic Cracks in Teeth

Some people develop cracked tooth syndrome as a result of either over brushing their teeth, or compressing/grinding their jaw too much. These can cause micro-cracks in the teeth that can’t be seen, but the main symptom is toothache with no visible identifiable cause. However, even though these cracks in the tooth are super-tiny, they can still allow bacteria inside the tooth and under the gums – the same health risks as a normal chipped or broken tooth.

Your local family dentist can test your teeth to tell if it has tiny cracks, usually via x-ray. These cracks in the teeth are kind of like stress fractures in a bone, and can lead to a severely cracked or broken tooth if you ignore the toothache for too long. Cracked tooth syndrome often requires dental bonding or crowning to correct the issue and protect the tooth from further damage or decay.

Cracked Filling and Chipped Tooth Repair in Cincinnati

When you chip a tooth or break a filling, it is important to get to the dentist as soon as possible – delaying treatment can result in additional dental problems. If you have a chipped tooth, contact the dentists at Beckham Square Family Dental today – serving Sharonville, Blue Ash, Springdale, Evendale, Cincinnati and the surrounding areas. We’re experts at repairing chipped teeth with as little discomfort and inconvenience as possible, and we are also your local emergency dentist if the chip is a little more than just a chip.