Maintaining dental health can give you a beautiful smile, but did you know that regular general dentistry visits can make them stronger as well? Over time, acidic or sugary foods can wear down the enamel on your teeth and weaken them, increasing the odds of breakage, cavities, and chips. If you have concerns about the…
How a General Dentistry Treats a Chipped Tooth
While general dentistry is concerned with preventing damage to teeth, it also involves restoring teeth when damage does occur. Teeth can chip or break due to an acute impact or cumulative trauma over time. Underlying decay can weaken the tooth and make a chip or fracture more likely.
What general dentistry options are available to treat a tooth that is broken or chipped?
There are several restoration options available to treat a tooth that has been chipped or broken. The appropriate treatment depends on the extent of the damage.
A crown may be an appropriate restoration for a tooth that has had a large piece break off from it. It consists of a tooth-shaped cap made of a strong, durable material such as ceramic, resin, metal, or a combination of two materials, such as porcelain (ceramic) fused to metal. For the crown to fit over the affected tooth, the dentist has to remove some of the remaining enamel so that there is room for it among the other teeth.
A root canal is necessary if so much of the tooth breaks away that it exposes the blood vessels and nerves at the center of the tooth. In addition to being extremely painful, this puts the tooth at risk of infection. A root canal removes the infected or dead pulp and saves the tooth. Because the removal of the pulp weakens the tooth, a crown procedure is typically required after a root canal.
Bonding may be an option if the damage to the tooth is relatively minor, affecting only a small piece of enamel. Bonding consists of applying a tooth-colored resin to the missing portion using an adhesive and then molding it so that it restores the tooth to its original shape and function. This procedure requires the removal of very little enamel. There is only some roughening of the tooth's surface so that the resin adheres to the tooth more effectively. You may not even need to have the affected tooth numbed prior to the procedure.
How do you take care of a chipped tooth in the interim?
If you have a tooth that is chipped or broken, you should call your dentist as soon as possible. However, your chipped tooth may not be an emergency, and it may be a while before you can get an appointment. There are some things you can do to take care of your tooth while you are waiting for your appointment:
- Avoid putting pressure on the broken tooth as this can weaken it further. Chew on the opposite side, if possible, and eat only soft foods.
- Rinse your mouth gently with a saltwater solution to kill bacteria and prevent infection.
- Take an over-the-counter pain reliever for any discomfort you are experiencing.
- If a sharp edge of a broken tooth is irritating soft tissues in your mouth, cover it with a piece of paraffin wax or, if you do not have any, a piece of sugarless chewing gum.
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There are several general dentistry treatments available for treating chipped or broken teeth. The extent of the damage determines which treatment is most appropriate.
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