While the enamel on your teeth is the strongest part of your body, there are times when even that is tested. Unfortunately, broken or chipped teeth happen more often that we’d like to think, and usually it’s the front teeth that end up chipped. Whether you tripped and fell, or suffered a sports injury that chipped a tooth, here’s what to do in the meantime, and what to expect when you get to the dentist.
What to Do At Home
There’s no way to fix a broken tooth by yourself. For the best possible outcome, you need to see a dentist immediately. No matter how bad the break or chip was, the sooner you see your dentist, the better. If at all possible, try to find the chip or broken off part of the tooth, and preserve it in a plastic bag with a few drops of water, or a damp piece of gauze.
Wash – Cleanse the area well with salt water. It’s a good idea to do a few salt water rinses, since your mouth is full of bacteria, and the last thing you want is an infection.
Apply Pressure – If the area is bleeding, use a piece of gauze to apply pressure to the bleeding area for about 10 minutes, or until the bleeding stops. If this still isn’t working, you might try putting pressure on a tea bag around the area to stop the bleeding.
Stop Pain – If the area is painful or swollen, apply a cold pack to the cheeks or lips where the swelling occurs. Additionally, you may take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
Protect Your Tooth – In the event that you can’t get to the dentist quickly, apply dental cement, found at your local drugstore, to the broken part of the tooth. This will help protect the nerve from further damage. Additionally, you may consider applying dental wax to broken or chipped teeth that could scratch or scrape lips and gums.
What the Dentist Will Do
Small Chips or Breaks – If the chip is very small, the dentist will either repair the damage with a filling, or by bonding the tooth.
A filling is basically the same filling you would receive if you had a cavity. Generally this will be used for teeth that can’t be seen when you smile, as fillings tend to be a different color than your teeth.
If the small chip or break occurred on one of your front teeth, the dentist will likely bond the tooth instead of filling it. This is a fairly simple process that doesn’t even require numbing. The dentist will roughen the surface of your tooth with a liquid or gel to make the bonding material adhere. Then an adhesive material will be applied to your tooth, followed by the bonding material. After ensuring that the bonding material looks like your natural tooth, the dentist will harden it with an ultraviolet light.
Medium-Sized Chips or Breaks – If the chip or break is slightly larger, you may require a larger filling, a crown, or a cap. Crowns and caps are essentially ceramic or porcelain pieces made to look just like your tooth, that are then adhered to the broken or chipped tooth. Crowns and caps make sure that your tooth doesn’t chip, crack, or break any further, and that it is protected for the future. After a crown or cap, your tooth will be as good as new!
Large Chips or Breaks – In the event that your chipped or broken tooth is bad enough to expose the nerve in your tooth, you will probably need a root canal. A root canal is done to remove the damaged nerve, so that you no longer experience the pain caused by an exposed nerve. Once the dentist takes out the damaged nerve, he will likely replace the chipped tooth with a cap or crown. As we mentioned before, these are made to look just like your previous tooth, and should have you back to life as usual in no time.
If you have more questions about your chipped tooth, or you need a dentist’s assistance, give the office at Mogren Dental a call! We’re currently taking new patients, and with our CEREC machine, we’ll have you out of the office with your new tooth in just one visit. Give our office a call at 231-737-5500 or schedule your own appointment online today!