4220 Sergeant Rd., Ste. 100, Sioux City IA 51106
Dona W. Prince, DDS

How do I deal with a chipped tooth?

  • By Dona Prince
  • 13 July, 2015

A chipped tooth can range from mildly sensitive to extremely painful, and while you can take steps to alleviate the pain, only a dentist can effectively treat a chipped tooth. Here is some important information about chipped teeth and their treatment.

Causes of Chipped Teeth

Chipped teeth can happen for a number of reasons, including an aggressive impact to your face or mouth as a result of falling or a sports injury, biting into a hard object, or an extensive cavity. Sometimes, teeth can chip in a significant way as a result of a single action, but other times your enamel can wear away over time, leading to a gradually chipped tooth.

Why Chipped Teeth Hurt

When your tooth is chipped, the inner layers and nerves within the tooth are often exposed. The severity of the chip and the exposure vary, but may lead to significant sensitivity to air as well as hot and cold temperatures. Take a pain reliever to temporarily alleviate the pain from the exposed nerve while you wait to see your dentist.

How to Care for a Chipped Tooth

First, make an appointment with your dentist to ensure that you have access to professional care as soon as possible. Next, rinse your mouth and the area around the affected tooth with warm water. If your injury is extensive enough to cause bleeding, press a small piece of gauze against the area to slow or stop bleeding.

If you aren’t able to see your dentist for several hours or more than a day, apply dental cement, paraffin wax, or a small piece of sugar free gum to the chipped area to seal and protect it temporarily. There’s no need to avoid eating or drinking unless either activity causes serious pain.

How Dentists Treat a Chipped Tooth

Most dentists will check for more extensive damage before treating your chipped tooth. For a minor chip, your dentist will likely just polish the tooth. For a medium chip, he or she will apply a filling or crown to restore your tooth’s functionality and appearance. For a large chip, your dentist may perform a root canal to repair the damaged nerve. If you’ve suffered severe cosmetic damage, your dentist may apply a veneer to make it look normal again.

How to Prevent Chipped Teeth

A chipped tooth can happen in an instant, but there are a few ways to prevent this condition in predictable situations. When playing sports, be sure to wear a mouth guard to protect your teeth from impact. When eating, chew slowly and be aware of what you’re consuming. If you do suffer a major chip, do your best to hold on to the detached portion under your tongue, so your dentist can replant it as soon as possible.

Whether your chipped tooth is minor or severe, it’s important to have your dentist treat this condition. Though you can take immediate measures to ease the pain of a chipped tooth, only a dental professional can assess the extent of the damage and treat it accordingly.