Few people would hesitate to see a dentist immediately if they had teeth knocked out or broken in an auto accident, fall or sports injury. Similar concern should apply to small chips and cracks in the tooth's hard outer surface called enamel. Chips and cracks may be caused by:
- biting down on something hard such as a popcorn kernel or ice
- weakened enamel on a tooth with decay
- simple wear and tear
- tooth grinding (bruxism)
- misalignment of the teeth
While large repairs may involve crown restorations or root canal therapy, a small chip or crack can be addressed more easily, quickly and inexpensively. A doctor who is skilled in cosmetic and restorative dentistry can employ different techniques to bring the injured tooth back to its original look and feel.
If the dentist cannot correct the small chip or crack with shaping and smoothing, he may use tooth-colored resin material to build-up and repair the imperfection. He can gently grind or etch the surface of the enamel and apply an adhesive which will help the bonding material to adhere.
After filling the crack or chip with the resin so that it looks like the natural surface of the tooth, the dentist will harden it with UV light. It may also be possible for him to bond the chipped off piece of natural enamel back on to the tooth.
Another effective repair is the resin or porcelain veneer. Similar to an artificial fingernail, a veneer is applied right over the front surface of the tooth, effectively hiding a crack or chip. Some people who have no fractures to their teeth elect veneers as a cosmetic solution to discolored, misshapen or otherwise less than satisfactory looking teeth.
To apply the veneer, the dentist removes a very small portion of material from the tooth, takes an impression of it and sends it a lab for fabrication. At the next appointment, he carefully etches the surface of the tooth, glues on the veneer and then hardens it with UV light. Veneers and bonding procedures are simple and painless. They are natural-looking and strong, too.
What to do when a minor tooth injury occurs
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Put gum or paraffin wax over the chip or crack to smooth and protect it.
- Call your dentist.
- Eat soft foods, and chew on the opposite side of the mouth until your doctor sees you.
Of course, life happens, and chipped and cracked teeth are common. To help avoid them, though, individuals should:
- wear mouth guards for sports
- use a guard to stop night time tooth grinding (bruxism)
- avoid chewing on non-foods such as pencils or pens
- don't open packaging with the teeth
Call AT Dental, PC Today!
Since 2004, Dr. Tu Nguyen has enjoyed practicing restorative, cosmetic and preventative dentistry in the Lawrenceville, Georgia area. A member of the American Association of Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Nguyen can be trusted to make your small chip or crack look perfect. Contact his office for an appointment at 770-277-0774.
Are you a patient of AT Dental, PC? If so, we would love to hear about your experiences below!
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