A chipped tooth typically refers to a piece breaking off from a tooth or a filling. As a result of chipping, the edge of the tooth may feel sharp, and pain may be felt.
The most common reasons for a chipped tooth are an accident resulting in an impact to the tooth, or biting into something hard, for example when eating. Prolonged teeth grinding or untreated caries can also weaken the tooth so that it chips more easily than usual.
A chipped tooth should always be examined by a dentist. If the chipping is small and does not cause pain, an emergency appointment is not necessarily needed, and you can wait until the next working day and book an appointment as usual.
Repairing a chipped tooth
The bigger the chip is or the more it causes pain, the sooner the chipped tooth should be repaired. A strongly sensitive or loose tooth are also signs that you should book an appointment with the dentist without delay.
Small chipping can usually be repaired easily by evening out the tooth by honing and filling the chipping with a filling material directly in the patient’s mouth. A tooth filling can be done under local anaesthesia completely painlessly, even in just a few minutes.
If the chipping is large and extends to the dental pulp, root canal therapy must first be performed. It may not be enough to only do a filling to repair a larger chipping, but it may need to be repaired with an artificial crown.
In rare cases, a tooth is damaged so badly as a result of an accident, for example, that it cannot be treated. In such cases, the damaged tooth can be removed and replaced with a single dental implant.
The dentist always assesses the need for treatment and discusses the options for repairing a chipped tooth with you. The sooner a chipped tooth is examined and repaired, the more likely it is to be saved.
Preventing tooth chipping
Accidental chipping of a tooth can be difficult to prevent, but the risk can be reduced. The first step is a regular dental examination, where possible tooth decay and gingivitis can be detected and treated in time.
If you do sports, for instance, where the risk of impact to the teeth is high, you can use mouthguards. A mouth guard made just for you is unnoticeable in use, but effectively protects your teeth from chipping or other damage.
Mouthguards are also available for teeth grinding. Occlusal splints are typically used at night and they both prevent teeth grinding and protect the teeth effectively.