It is fairly common to chip a tooth, and often it’s not a serious issue. That said, it’s important to get help for a chipped tooth straight away, even if it is a minor, painless accident.
You may think that a slightly chipped tooth is just an aesthetic problem, but left untreated, any tooth chipping can cause further problems. These range from the unpleasant experience of cutting your tongue, to more serious issues such as tooth infections, extensive cracking, and even tooth loss. Here, we explore how to fix a chipped tooth and what your options are.
What to do after chipping a tooth
No matter how extensive the damage is, always seek care from a dentist after chipping your tooth. The immediate steps you need to take come down to the seriousness of the injury. Here’s what to do immediately after chipping a tooth:
- If the injury is extensive and painful, it’s vital to get emergency care either from your dentist or by phoning NHS 111 if it’s out of hours.
- If you have a slightly chipped tooth and it’s not painful, you will still need to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to discuss repair options and avoid further painful and costly complications down the line.
- If you have chipped a tooth and you still have the tooth fragment, put it safely into a sealed container and take it to your dentist. They may be able to glue it back in place.
How to fix a chipped tooth
When you visit your dentist with a chipped tooth, they will perform a careful examination to see the extent of the damage and offer options for repair. Options for chipped tooth repair vary depending on each case, but these are the most common solutions.
- Composite bonding
Perhaps the most likely treatment, bonding is the ideal solution for small chips. This simple and painless procedure involves placing a small amount of composite resin onto the tooth. This is a tooth-like material that ‘cements’ to your tooth and blends seamlessly with the natural tooth structure and colour. As well as looking natural, this straightforward procedure is the most affordable fix for a chipped tooth.
- Crowns and veneers
Usually offered for larger chips, crowns and veneers are very similar to each other in many ways, but while a veneer covers the front of the damaged tooth only, a crown will sit over the entire tooth structure. Both crowns and veneers are made from a tooth-like material, giving them the right level of strength and aesthetics to make them look, feel, and behave like natural teeth. A common repair option for chipped teeth, they have the added benefit of making sure your natural tooth doesn’t chip or crack further or get infected.
- Treating severe cases
If you have lost most of your tooth a dentist may recommend an extraction. This is only done if very little natural tooth remains. The removed tooth can then be replaced by a bridge or a dental implant.A bridge is a replacement tooth that is fastened to the teeth either side of the gap. Replacing missing teeth with a bridge not only improves your appearance but will eliminate the risk of any remaining teeth rotating or shifting into the empty space.
A dental implant is screwed into the bone in your jaw and crafted to look exactly like your natural tooth. This may sound like a daunting procedure, but it would be performed under a local anaesthetic to completely numb the area, and your dentist can minimise the stress further with a sedative if needed.