What to do when you chip or crack a tooth?

While your teeth are incredibly strong and you think they’d be hard to hurt, life happens. Maybe you forgot to use your mouthguard during soccer practice, or you bit down on a piece of hard food the wrong way. Perhaps you got in a car accident or simply a fight with your sibling. Regardless of what happened, your teeth can chip or even crack. The important thing is what you do about it when it happens.

The first step is not to panic, because this is normal, and your dentist can help. In fact, chipping a tooth is one of the most common dental injuries. A chip does not mean your teeth are not strong or that your teeth are going to be hurt forever. It simply means you had an accident.

The next step is to contact your dentist as soon as possible, especially if the damage is severe or if you are experiencing pain. Your dentist will be able to discuss with you the severity of your injury and the best treatment options for you. In some cases, treatment may not be immediately necessary, but in other cases, it can be critical for you to receive treatment. For instance, the size and location of the chip are two facts that can influence how at risk you are.

If you are curious about treatment options, there are generally four main practices. For small chips that are not in any major areas bonding is the most common form of treatment. Bonding is a procedure that uses composite material. The material will be placed over the healthy area of the tooth to cover and protect it. In order to make the material look natural, as though it was a part of your tooth before, your dentist will shape it properly before placing your tooth under a blue light to harden the material in place. This is normally an suggested treatment, but not always required as it may be done for only aesthetic reasons. Usually, if treated well, this can last for around ten years.

However, if the crack is more than a cosmetic problem, your dentist may suggest something longer lasting than bonding. Veneers are porcelain covers that go over the front of your teeth. They will make your tooth look smooth without losing the appearance of being natural. This treatment can last from at least ten to twenty years, yet it generally comes at a higher cost. This treatment option though is a good option for patients with repetitive issues of chipping.

Similar to veneers, there are crowns, which are even more heavy duty. We often think of these when we think of cavities, but cavities are not the only use for crowns. Crowns are a porcelain cover for your teeth that cover the entire tooth. This is best for cracked teeth or seriously chipped teeth that have lost their shape. Not only does this treatment restore your tooth, but it prevents further damage and tooth decay.

Finally, dental implants may be needed is the crack is near or just before the surface of the gumline. In the case, the tooth may need to be removed by and oral surgeon and replaced with a dental implant. The implant can look and feel just like a real tooth. While this may not at first be apparent, dental implants are often needed to avoid infection and further issues in the future. While the other procedures are fairly simple, this option will take longer to perform and for patients to recover from.

Whether you have a small chip or a serious crack, be sure not to panic and simply reach out to your dentist right away. They will know which of these treatment options will be best for you and your tooth.

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