Broken and chipped teeth are among the most common dental injuries. Typical causes include accidents, trauma, tooth grinding, biting down on hard foods or ice, brittleness caused by extensive decay or restorations, and using teeth as tools.
Depending on the amount of damage the tooth has suffered, there are several options for restoring the appearance and function of a chipped or broken tooth.
If the chip is very small, it might be possible to treat the enamel with contouring. The jagged edge of the enamel is gently reshaped with a drill or laser, and then the edge is polished for a smooth, even appearance.
A tooth with a small chip or crack could be a good candidate for bonding. A tooth-colored composite resin is applied to the damaged area with an adhesive, molded to shape, and then hardened with a curing light.
Veneers are common options for a more seriously chipped front tooth. A veneer is a thin, tooth-colored shell made of porcelain or composite resin, custom crafted from an impression of the injured tooth. Once the veneer is fabricated, the tooth’s front surface is shaped and prepped and the veneer is bonded to the tooth.
It may be possible to reattach a broken tooth fragment if the damage is not too severe. Acting quickly and protecting the tooth fragment are essential. Call us for instructions on how to preserve a broken tooth fragment.
If too much of the tooth structure is damaged or missing, a crown can restore the tooth’s appearance and function. The injured tooth is shaped and prepared, an impression is made, and a crown is custom fabricated to cover and protect the remaining tooth structure. If the pulp is damaged, a root canal is usually necessary to save the tooth before the crown’s final application.
If the tooth has lost too much structure, if a crack extends below the gum line, or if a root is broken, extraction might be necessary. A dental implant after extraction is often the best treatment for long-term dental health. Implants can prevent shifting in the surrounding teeth, difficulties with eating and speaking, and loss of bone beneath the missing tooth.
Any injury to a tooth should be treated promptly to prevent possible infection and further damage to the tooth and the tissues around it.