Your teeth are made up of pulp, which contains nerve endings, surrounded by a wall of dentin, and all coated with enamel. This enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and one of the hardest in the natural world. Unfortunately, it isn’t indestructible and can be damaged and chipped.
What Causes Teeth to Chip?
Enamel, like most other things, wears away and weakens over time. This means that older people are much more susceptible to chipped teeth, but it can occur no matter what your age is.
Any trauma to your teeth can result in chipping, and the most common causes are:
- biting something hard, such as ice
- a fall or other accident
- not wearing a mouth guard during contact sports
- grinding your teeth in your sleep
You will also be at greater risk of chipped teeth if your teeth have been weakened through sickness or neglect.
The following will all increase the risk of chipping:
- Tooth decay, cavities, or large fillings.
- Over-consumption of acidic foods and drinks such as spicy dishes, fruit, juices, and coffee.
- Stomach acid in the mouth, caused by acid reflux or heartburn.
- Frequent vomiting due to an eating disorder or excessive alcohol use.
- And, of course, the number one enemy of teeth – sugar.
What Are the Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth?
Chips vary in size and severity; you could chip your tooth and not even notice it, on the other hand, if the bit that is broken away is big enough to expose nerve endings, it could cause you severe pain, and require the immediate attention of your dentist.
Thankfully, most chipping is not that severe, but here are the other symptoms to look out for:
- a jagged surface on one of your teeth (you can feel this with your tongue)
- irritation of the gum around one tooth
- a sore spot on your tongue, where it is catching against a chipped tooth
- pain in your tooth when you bite
If the damage is major and left untreated, it can lead to an infection in the root of your tooth that will require root canal work to repair.
Symptoms of infection are:
- Swollen glands around the neck and jaw.
- Eating causes pain.
- Bad breath.
- A sour taste in your mouth.
How to Fix a Chipped Tooth
Anything but the most minor chipping will require the attention of a dentist, and we will discuss options for chipped tooth repair in a moment. First, here are some things you can do to alleviate the symptoms while you wait for your appointment.
- Use anti-inflammatory pain-killers, like ibuprofen, if you are in pain.
- Place an ice-pack on the outside of the affected area to bring down any swelling.
- Don’t chew with the chipped tooth.
- Brush and floss well to remove any food particles caught in your teeth.
- Use clove oil to numb any painful areas on your gums.
If the chip is minor, your dentist will be able to smooth it out.
If it is more severe, they will recommend one of the following options:
The tooth is rebuilt with layers of a composite resin or porcelain attached to your tooth and shaped to its contours. This can last up to 10 years.
2. Porcelain veneer
Your dentist will send an impression of your teeth to a dental lab which will make a porcelain veneer, which can then be bonded to the affected tooth. Veneers last up to 30 years.
3. Dental crown
If the damage is extensive, you may need a full dental crown, which might require the administration of anesthesia while it is being fitted.
Even if your chipped tooth is causing you only minimal discomfort, visit your dentist. Better to spend 5 minutes in the dentist’s chair now than letting the problem develop into something serious, which will take a lot more time and money to fix.
If you think you have a problem with a chipped tooth, or you feel any of the aforementioned symptoms, call us today to book an appointment!