New York Dental Astoria - Blog

Tips, tricks and suggestions about oral health.

Ouch! I just chipped my tooth. What can I do about it?

I just chipped my tooth

Worry not. If you're well informed, it turns out that you can do quite a lot should you have an accident and suffer a chipped or cracked tooth. Let's face it; this type of mishap is, unfortunately, much more common than we would like. At one time or another, who hasn't bitten down on some savory nuts, a sweet, delicious piece of hard candy, or a chicken bone and felt an ominous crunch followed by a sharp pain? Sometimes, it's simply a false alarm and no real damage was done. 

The searing pain quickly goes away. But, there are instances when you will rush to the mirror and see that a tiny particle of the tooth has gone missing or, even worse, the entire tooth has a crack running down it.

And, it's not just when you are eating something and being a little careless that puts a person at risk for chipped or cracked teeth. Other all-too-common causes of this misfortune include hitting your mouth when falling down, bruxism, which is grinding or clenching your teeth habitually, poor nutrition or oral hygiene that causes cavities and, of course, sports injuries. It's smart to be extra careful, all of you moms and dads out there, when allowing your child to play soccer, basketball, or baseball with their school team. Always remember to emphasize safety and, when appropriate, ask your dentist about fitting your sports-crazy child, with a mouth guard. It can't hurt...literally!

Once the worst has happened, though, try not to panic. It won't help. Keeping calm allows one to think your way through an emergency instead of going off the deep end and doing more harm than good. The best thing to do is call your dentist's office right away and see if you can get an appointment that same day or, at the very least, early the next day. It's never a good idea to try and diagnose yourself. You might think that, well, the pain is going away and that crack or chip looks to be quite miniscule. As that classic rock band The Who advised us in their song " We Won't Get Fooled Again", don't YOU become bamboozled by perceptions that are NOT what they appear to be. Or, wishful thinking, for that matter.

Sure, many instances of chipped teeth aren't big-time emergencies. But, what if that chip is large enough to have exposed a nerve, in an area that is out of sight? Ignoring a chipped tooth could result in damage to one's enamel, increased tooth sensitivity and the likelihood of infection. Yes, you heard right. When a tooth is broken, however slightly, the nerve is less protected from bacteria in the mouth and that INCREASES the risk of getting an infection.

Immediately after chipping or cracking a tooth, there are several important steps that you can take to TEMPORARILY assuage the problem, prior to seeing a dental professional. First, and this is of vital importance, RINSE OUT YOUR MOUTH with WARM WATER. This is highly recommended by no less an authority than the American Dental Association. Using warm (NOT HOT) water will help to clean your mouth and keep potentially harmful irritants away from the problem tooth. REDUCE SWELLING by applying an ice pack or cold compress to the area of your face where the damaged tooth is. Should there be any BLEEDING, STOP IT by using gauze pads to gently apply pressure to the affected area. What about PAIN RELIEF? We're glad you asked! By all means, take an over-the-counter pain reliever or anti-inflammatory, as directed on the package. Advil and Aleve are two potent pain relievers that come to mind. PROTECT AGAINST JAGGED EDGES. Chipped teeth can leave behind jagged, uneven, sometimes rather sharp edges that can wreak havoc with your tongue and the inside of your cheek, closest to the problem tooth. A badly cut tongue is no fun; believe that! The best thing to do would be to apply some dental wax on the offending tooth, which acts as a shield. You can find dental wax at most local pharmacies as well as in over-the-counter tooth repair kits. Some industrious folks have, when all else fails, used a wad of sugarless chewing gum in place of dental wax.

Until you can see your dentist, be careful what you eat. try and chew on the other side of your mouth, away from the affected tooth. And, opt for VERY soft foods that don't require a ton of chewing such as mashed potatoes or room-temperature soup. Again, nothing too hot or cold because chipped and cracked teeth are hypersensitive to extreme temps. When dealing with a chipped or cracked tooth, one should avoid flossing. Yes, we are well aware that brushing and flossing are a part of your oral care routine and we applaud your efforts. But there are exceptions to the rule and this is one of them. Flossing could potentially end up breaking off even more of the damaged tooth.

Once you are in the dental chair, a thorough examination of your tooth will take place. This will include a visual exam by your dentist as well as X-rays. If you have managed to salvage a piece of the damaged tooth, so much the better. In some cases, your dentist can reattach it. But, don't count on that happening all the time.

If the chip in your tooth is tiny, then your dentist could opt for a process known as cosmetic contouring. This involves using a polishing instrument designed to remove all traces of the chip as well as smooth out any remaining jagged edges. Voila! You'll look as good as new.
Bonding one's teeth involves the application of a composite resin to the tooth that has become cracked or chipped. The resin bonds to your tooth, improving both its structure and appearance.
Once the tooth-colored resin has been applied, your dentist will carefully shape it to look natural and aesthetically pleasing, utilizing an ultraviolet light to harden the material.

Dental veneers may also come into play. This process is relatively painless, but it does take several visits to the dentist's office to complete. Simply put, a veneer is a very thin shell of custom-made porcelain that covers the entire front of the damaged tooth. The process involves making an impression of the tooth in question, which is then sent out to a dental lab. They are the ones who create the veneer. It usually takes around a week or so to make the veneer. Then your dentist will place it on the tooth. Dental veneers are a fantastic cosmetic solution, as they last a long time, have the appearance of natural teeth and are resistant to stains and discolorations.

It's good to keep in mind that, should worse come to worse and unforeseen circumstances
cause unsightly damage to your teeth, all is not lost! Just follow the temporary, emergency self-help steps we talked about earlier in this article, see your dentist ASAP and look forward to getting that HOLLYWOOD SMILE back in no time at all.
Stay Informed

When you subscribe to the blog, we will send you an e-mail when there are new updates on the site so you wouldn't miss them.

The Power of Mouthwash - Wash all your oral health...
© New York Dental. All rights reserved.