How Dentists Repair a Chipped Tooth
Accidents happen, but when an unforeseen incident like a fall or a sports injury results in a chipped tooth, it may feel like you smile will never look right again. Rest assured that you dentist has the technology and the artistry to fix your chipped tooth and make it look whole and natural!
Even though teeth are made of the hardest substance in your body, they’re still vulnerable to the rough and tumble nature of our world. And you don’t have to be a belligerent hockey player to end up with a broken tooth. We’ve heard damaged teeth resulting from overly enthusiastic dance moves, tumbling down the stairs when getting the mail, or even games of “the floor is lava” gone wrong. Perhaps the most common cause is sheer bad luck: biting down wrong on an unexpectedly hard piece of food.
When a tooth is broken it often leaves the inner pulp of the tooth exposed. The pulp contains the tooth’s nerve, so this exposure can be quite uncomfortable. Seeing the dentist as soon as possible is critical not just for looking better, but also feeling better. When you do get to our office, the first thing the dentist will do is examine the extent of the damage, which helps determine which repair method makes the most sense.
For small chips or those that don’t involve replacing a significant portion of tooth structure, bonding is the primary method for making the tooth whole again. The dentist cleans and prepares the broken surface of the tooth, then applies a tooth colored paste made of composite, which is a plastic-like substance. This composite is molded into the shape needed to make the tooth look whole again, and hardened with a special blue light. That’s it!
When a tooth is so damaged that the majority of its structure is compromised, a crown may be needed to fully restore it. Crowns, also known as caps, are hollow artificial teeth that can be slipped over a damaged tooth to repair both its appearance and function. A crown can also strengthen the tooth beneath it and protect it from decay.
Veneers are porcelain sleeves that slide over the tooth and are cemented in place. Unlike crowns, veneers only cover the front surface of teeth, so they are more likely to be used to restore appearance, not structure. Patient’s who have had trouble with bonding falling off repeatedly (due to new accidents; bonding lasts 5-10 years) may opt for veneers for a more permanent solution.
When a tooth breaks below the gum line, the dentist isn’t always able to make repairs to the original tooth. In this case, the damage may be so extensive that it makes more sense to remove the tooth and replace it with an artificial one. Dental implants are artificial tooth roots made of metal that are surgically inserted into your jawbone. A natural-looking ceramic crown is then cemented to the anchor. A dental implant tooth feels and functions almost exactly like a natural tooth!