Can I Ignore a Chipped Tooth?

If you have a chip or crack in a tooth, you shouldn’t ignore it. Read on to learn why chips can occur and what you should do if you get one.

The enamel protecting your teeth consists of some of the hardest tissue in your body. With good genes and proper hygiene, your adult teeth can survive a lifetime. However, they’re not impervious to damage.

If you’ve chipped a tooth after falling down, getting struck in the face, or biting down on something, dental care might be necessary to repair the damage and protect the remaining tooth. At Image Dental in Stockton, California, our providers offer a range of general and cosmetic dentistry options that can restore a tooth both functionality and cosmetically.

An overview of tooth fractures 

Your teeth consist of three basic layers: The enamel, which is the hard outer layer, the dentin, which is the middle layer, and the pulp, which sits at the center and consists of blood vessels and nerve endings.

Chipped, fractured, or broken teeth are not uncommon, and depending on the extent of the damage, one, two, or all three layers can be affected. Unfortunately, accidents can’t always be avoided. Furthermore, you can have a higher chance of damaging your teeth if they get weak. Common causes of weakened teeth include: 

  • Tooth decay, which eats away at enamel and leaves the tooth vulnerable 
  • Bruxism, which is a condition in which you grind your teeth while sleeping 
  • Acid reflux and excessive vomiting, which exposes your teeth to stomach acid 
  • Drinking a lot of coffee and fruit juice, which weakens enamel 
  • Previous dental work, especially root canals and large fillings 
  • Bad habits, such as smoking or chewing on ice 

Age is also a major factor in the strength of your teeth. Your enamel naturally wears down over time, with nearly two thirds of adults over age 50 having weakened enamel. Certain teeth are also more liable to crack than others. You’re more likely to chip your front teeth during an accident, but the molars on the side you chew the most take large amounts of pressure on a regular basis. 

Treating a chipped tooth 

Depending on the placement and severity of the chipped tooth, you have options. Generally speaking, it’s best that you seek dental care whenever something goes wrong, but not all chips require immediate dental attention. Unless your tooth is causing pain and interfering with eating, you can take a little time to find a trustworthy dentist and decide what to do. 

If the chip is minor enough, your dentist may be able to perform cosmetic contouring to smooth out the edges. If a notable fragment of enamel has come loose, your provider may be able to bond it to your tooth using composite resin.

In the meantime, retain the piece of tooth that came out, if you can, and cover any jagged areas of the remaining tooth with wax to avoid cutting your tongue and cheek. For serious fractures, your dentist might recommend a dental crown to cap off the tooth. A crown can reinforce your tooth and protect it from further damage. 

Regardless of how minor or severe your chipped tooth is, our providers at Image Dental can give you the care you need. We can give your tooth a thorough examination and discuss your next steps. Furthermore, if you’re not aware of any damage, our providers always check for hairline cracks and other issues at regular cleanings.

To learn more, call 209-392-5688 or book an appointment online with Image Dental today.

Stephen Nozaki, DDS, MPH, DIDIA

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton. He is a dedicated professional born and raised in California's Central Valley. With a commitment to his community, he brings advanced dental techniques learned from extensive education and continuous training from around the world. A third-generation Japanese American, Dr. Nozaki has a rich background that includes international living and a deep passion for both dentistry and outdoor activities. His focus in dentistry aligns with his passion for cosmetics and dental implants.