If you have suffered a chipped tooth because of an accident, the first thing you should do is have your dentist examine it. He or she can tell you how severe the chip is through dental x-rays. Your dentist will also ask you about pain that may be associated with root damage. If no root damage is present, you have several different choices for tooth repair.
Filing and Dental Bonding
If your chipped tooth is minimally damaged, you may be able to have it filed down until it appears normal. You can also have your imperfect tooth fixed with dental bonding. This procedure uses a composite, tooth-colored resin that is applied to your tooth in a putty-like form and hardened with a curing light. The resin is then filed down to match the look of your natural tooth, and polished to give the material an authentic appearance.
If your chip is more severe, porcelain veneers may be used to fit over your natural tooth and hide your damage. A porcelain veneer is a thin porcelain shell used to mask any imperfections and restore a healthy, aesthetically pleasing smile. Your chipped tooth will be shaved down and the porcelain veneers placed overtop. The veneer will be bonded directly to your tooth for a durable, natural-looking smile.
Dental Crowns, Inlays and Onlays
If your tooth is badly chipped, or if you experience pain while eating or drinking, you may need a dental crown. A crown “caps” or covers your natural tooth, protecting it and restoring its appearance. Your chipped tooth may also be repaired with a customized inlay or onlay. An inlay is similar to a filling, which is placed inside your tooth’s cusps. An onlay is a more extensive restoration and is placed on top of your tooth to cover and protect one or multiple cusps. An onlay is recommended when you need more protection and tooth preservation than a crown can provide.
If your chipped tooth is more badly damaged than you originally thought, you may be advised to have that tooth removed. If your tooth requires removal, you can replace it with a dental bridge or a dental implant. A bridge is made up of two crowns that are placed on the teeth to either side of the empty space. The crowns on these adjacent teeth are then used to hold a fake tooth in place.
A dental implant is another option for tooth replacement. It is a small, sturdy, titanium peg that acts as the root structure for a fake tooth. The implant is surgically placed into your upper or lower jaw bone. Once your bone has grown around the metal post, it can be used to hold in place a crown, bridge or denture.
Do Not Ignore Your Chipped Tooth
If you have suffered an injury to your mouth, and one of your teeth was chipped as a result, you should see a dentist as soon as possible. Your dental professional can assess your condition and recommend the best course of action to fix your chip. Occasionally, a tooth that has severely broken off can be repaired if addressed immediately, so be sure to take any piece(s) with you to the dentist. Waiting to seek treatment will only negatively impact your mouth, as it increases the chance of further deterioration from any unseen damage.