What to Do When You Chip a Tooth

What To Do When You Chip a Tooth - Dr. Rick Mars

Your teeth are naturally resilient, but your front teeth can still chip, crack, or break. Many different situations can damage teeth, and the severity of the injury affects how the tooth is repaired. The best way to prepare for a dental emergency like this is to educate yourself on what to do when/if you chip a tooth. 

Maybe you bit down on something hard or knocked your tooth with a drinking glass. Damage can also occur in more traumatic ways, like a blow to the mouth.

First things first. If a piece of your tooth is missing, try to save it in a small piece of wet gauze or paper towel. Keep this in a safe place until you can get to the dentist. You should rinse your mouth with a salt water rinse to clean the affected area and stop any bleeding that might occur as a result of the injury.  Rarely can this fractured piece of tooth actually be used in the repair process but it might provide valuable information to assist your dentist in your treatment. 

Call your dentist. Don’t wait! Make an appointment with your dentist to evaluate the injured tooth as soon as possible. Some people think they can handle an injured tooth by themselves, but I don’t recommend doing this. While it might be minor, it’s still a good idea to have your dentist take a look. The last thing you want is for the situation to cause more pain and cost more to fix in the long run. 

Until you can see your dentist. You might have to wait a couple of days to see your dentist. If that’s the case, here are a few ways to manage a chipped tooth at home. 

  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories to help with the pain.
  • Use a cold compress near the affected area to reduce any swelling. 
  • Avoid the affected tooth when eating or drinking.

Options for fixing your tooth. Your dentist will be able to tell you what the best method will be to repair your tooth to full health and functionality. Here are a few ways dentists can repair a broken or cracked tooth.

  • Bonding uses a white filling that best matches the natural color of the tooth to repair the affected area. While this is one of the less expensive methods, fillings like this can stain and break easily.
  • Veneers- This method of correction uses custom-made shells, often made from porcelain.  These specially made veneers match teeth’s natural color and can restore them back to their original beauty and functionality. 
  • Crowns- Sometimes known as caps, this method strengthens the tooth and gives it a new outer surface. Crowns are “cemented” onto the existing tooth and cover the portion of the tooth above the gum line.

Remember, it’s important to see your dentist after you chip a tooth, so set up an appointment as soon as you can. To learn more about dentistry, check out my book, The Big Smile. You can also follow me on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.