Oh no, you have a chipped tooth! Maybe you fell. Maybe you were hit in the face or mouth. Maybe you bit down on something hard. At first, you thought everything was okay, but running your tongue along your teeth, you feel a jagged edge that wasn’t there before.
Tooth enamel is a very strong material. It has to be for all the chewing that we do. Nevertheless, teeth can break and chip, and sometimes you may not even realize it because there’s no pain. However, if you have a major break, it’s likely that the nerve inside the tooth has been exposed and even damaged, and that’s when the pain starts. If hot or cold drinks or even air touch those nerve endings, it can be quite painful. Fractures occur from accidents, cavities, or old fillings that crack.
You might not be in pain, and you might think your tooth looks and feels just fine, but call your dentist anyway. On the other hand, if your tooth hurts non-stop, it’s a serious sign that the nerve might be damaged, so you definitely need to call.
So what can you do in the mean time for your chipped tooth until you get to the dentist office?
- First, rinse your mouth with warm water. It might be a bit painful but do it anyway.
- If you’re bleeding, apply pressure with gauze to try to stop the bleeding. Tea bags will also work.
- Go ahead and put a cold pack on your cheek or lip near the broken tooth. This will help keep the swelling down. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever, too.
- If it’s going to take you a while to get to the dentist, purchase dental cement from a local pharmacy and cover the cracked part of your tooth as a stopgap repair.
What will my dentist do?
The dentist will do an exam to find out why and how the tooth broke in the first place. Different fractures are repaired differently. It can range from smoothing out a minor crack to putting on a crown. Serious breaks that expose the nerve require more involved procedures. If the nerve is in jeopardy, you will most likely need a root canal. Certain teeth like molars have more than one root, so multiple roots might need repair. In some cases, the root can’t be saved and your dentist will pull the tooth. He or she may recommend a replacement artificial tooth. If your break is due to tooth decay, the damage is sometimes very extensive. The decay may go down into the bone, and teeth are typically removed in this instance as well.
Just remember, for a tooth chip, crack or fracture, contact our office as soon as you can. You will have a better chance of saving that tooth if you do! In the event that you have a chipped tooth or another form of dental emergency, call us immediately at (860) 887-2231.