General

Dr George Connell

Chipped tooth? Here’s what to do next…

Uh oh. You’ve chipped your tooth…

 

It happens!

 

In fact, a chipped, broken or cracked tooth is an extremely common issue we see at our dental clinic.

 

Even though your tooth enamel is one of the toughest substances in your body, it does have its breaking point (‘scuse the pun!)

 

Whether you took a forceful hit to the mouth or crunched down on some hard food, chipping part of your tooth or breaking a tooth can be an annoying part of life. Getting a chipped or broken tooth is not just a nuisance, it can also be very painful and affect your smile or bite.

 

So, what should you do when you chip your tooth? Let’s explore your options.

 

But first, a disclaimer:

 

This article contains general advice and should not be used to treat your chipped tooth. If you or your child has a chipped tooth or broken tooth, please book an appointment online for an emergency dental check-up to assess and repair any damage.

I’ve chipped my tooth! What should I do now?

 

First things first — call your dentist!

 

The best thing you can do for a chipped or broken tooth is to get it checked out ASAP by your dentist. They will assess the condition of your teeth and the damage to ensure you receive the right treatment. Your dentist will have a number of options on how to fix a chipped tooth and will determine the best way to repair it.

Booked in your appointment? Good. Now, it’s time to focus on protecting your chipped tooth and the inside of your mouth from any further damage while you wait to see your dentist.

 

Here are a few things you can do at home to help your chipped or broken tooth and reduce any discomfort or swelling.

Rinse your mouth with salt water or mouthwash

Use salt water or mouthwash to rinse your mouth and wash away any bacteria or food particles that may be hiding in the jagged ends of your chipped tooth. Salt water is a natural disinfectant and can also help to reduce inflammation. Mouthwash is a great anti-bacterial solution that will help to fight off bacteria until your dentist can properly clean your affected tooth.

 

To create a salt water rinse, mix ½ teaspoon of salt into a cup (approx. 250ml) of warm water and use it as a mouthwash.

 

Floss your teeth (especially around the chipped tooth!)

You should be flossing every day but it’s even more important when you have a chipped or broken tooth. Be sure to floss around the affected tooth to remove any food that may be caught there.

 

Use dental wax to smooth over any sharp edges

If you’ve chipped or broken part of your tooth, you may be left with some sharp edges that can irritate the inside of your cheeks, gums and tongue. To avoid any further damage to your mouth, use dental wax to temporarily smooth over the jagged edges of your chipped tooth. You can pick up dental wax from your local pharmacy.

 

Keep in mind, this is not recommended if you have a large chip or section of tooth missing as there is the risk that more of the tooth could break off when you remove the wax.

 

Take over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication

It can be quite painful to chip or break your tooth — especially if the damage is the result of trauma to the mouth or face. Consider taking an oral OTC pain reliever, such as Paracetamol or Ibuprofen, to help reduce any pain or discomfort. Always read the label and take the recommended dosage.

 

Avoid chewing on your chipped tooth

Even if your chipped tooth doesn’t feel painful, it’s important to avoid chewing with that tooth until you can see your dentist. This will help you ensure you don’t do any further damage to the chipped tooth and help you avoid getting any food particles stuck in its rough edges.

 

Avoid food and drinks that are hot, cold or hard to chew

When you chip, break or crack your tooth, the damage may expose the tooth’s sensitive nerves. This will make it quite painful to chew, eat or drink — especially things that are hot and cold. To prevent any further pain or damage to your tooth, avoid eating anything hot, cold, chewy and crunchy. Stick to soft, room temperature foods that are easy to chew.

 

Use a cold compress

If your chipped or broken tooth has been caused by trauma to the mouth or face, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek on the affected side. This will help to reduce pain, swelling and inflammation of the area.

 

Simply wrap a bag of ice (or frozen peas) in a towel and apply to the affected area for 20 minutes. Repeat every few hours.

 

If the chipped or broken tooth was caused by a severely traumatic incident with acute pain or bleeding, visit your nearest emergency room immediately to receive medical attention.


What causes a chipped tooth or broken tooth?

Chipping or breaking a tooth can happen from a simple day-to-day activity like eating to something more serious like accidental trauma.

 

Here are a few causes of a broken or chipped tooth:

  • Eating hard food
    Whether you were crunching on ice or accidentally bit into an olive pit, hard foods are a common culprit behind chipped and broken teeth or cracked molars.
  • Accidents and trauma
    An accidental fall or blow to the face can result in a chipped or broken tooth. Accidental tooth damage commonly occurs while playing sport so be sure to protect your teeth with a mouth guard if possible.
  • Grinding your teeth
    If you’re prone to grinding your teeth in your sleep (called sleep bruxism), it could see you end up with a chipped tooth or cracked molar. Grinding can lead to the erosion and weakening of your teeth, leaving them more vulnerable to chips and breaks. The excessive pressure of clenching your jaw can also create small cracks in your tooth enamel which may turn into a cracked tooth over time.
  • Using your teeth to open packaging or hold on to objects
    This one is a BIG no-no — and a very common reason behind chipped or broken teeth. Never use your teeth for anything other than eating or chewing.
  • Old fillings or restorations
    Sometimes old fillings or tooth restorations can wear away, leaving your teeth vulnerable to chips and breaks — even when you’re just eating or drinking.
  • Cavities
    Cavities can create holes in your tooth, weakening it from the inside. This leaves your tooth vulnerable to breaks or chips as it no longer has the structural integrity to support constant chewing or eating.

How do I know if I have a cracked tooth?


Cracked teeth can be pretty sneaky. If you have a cracked tooth, you may not even be aware of it. Unlike a chip or a break in your tooth, cracks can be so small that you can’t see them — they may even barely show up on an x-ray!


It’s important to recognise the symptoms of a cracked tooth so you can get it checked out by your dentist before any further damage occurs.

 

Symptoms of a cracked tooth include:

  • Pain when eating or chewing
  • Sensitivity to cold and hot food or drinks
  • Toothache
  • Bad breath

If you notice any of these cracked tooth symptoms, book in to see your dentist immediately.

What should I do if my tooth is knocked out?


If your tooth is knocked out completely, your dentist may be able to save it and put it back in its socket if you act fast. Ideally, the complete tooth must be replaced in the socket within 30 minutes of this injury.

 

If you have the complete tooth, be sure not to touch the root and do not let it dry out. If it is dirty, rinse it with water or milk. The tooth will have a better chance of survival if it is held in your cheek until you attend your emergency dental appointment. This will ensure the tooth stays in its most natural environment. If you cannot hold the tooth in your cheek, keep it in some milk.

 

If you or your child has knocked out a tooth, contact us immediately and we will walk you through what to do and arrange an emergency appointment.

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How do you treat a chipped tooth?


Depending on the damage and condition of the broken or chipped tooth, treatment options can vary.

 

Your dentist will determine the best way to fix or repair your chipped tooth. Some treatment options include:

  • Fillings
    If only minor damage has occurred to the tooth, your dentist may be able to fix your chipped tooth with a filling. This can be done on the spot at your appointment.
  • Dental veneers
    For chipped or broken front teeth, dental veneers may be the best option to restore your smile. Dental veneers are usually made from composite material or porcelain. They are designed to match the colour of your natural teeth so they look just like the real thing.
  • Dental crown
    A dental crown may be required if the surface of the tooth is damaged or if the chipped or broken area is too big to be treated with a filling. We offer same-day dental crowns at our dental clinic. Depending on your case, you may be able to have your crown crafted and fitted in one appointment.
  • Root canal therapy
    In more severe cases of broken or cracked teeth, root canal therapy may be required. This treatment involves cleaning the affected tissues from inside your tooth and removing the damaged area. The tooth roots are then filled and a dental crown is placed over the tooth to restore its strength and functionality.
  • Tooth removal
    Your dentist will do everything possible to save your chipped, broken or cracked tooth — but in the worst-case scenario, tooth removal may be the only option. In this instance, the missing tooth would be replaced with a dental implant.


Remember, early treatment is always best. Be sure to see your dentist as soon as you chip or break any part of your tooth.

Repair chipped tooth
How do you fix a chipped tooth? There are many ways! Your dentist will be able to assess the damage to your tooth and advise on the best treatment option.

What happens if you leave a chipped tooth untreated?


When you chip, break or crack a tooth, you may not feel any pain at first. You may even put off going to the dentist because the chip is only small and doesn’t bother you.

 

But beware!

 

Avoiding dental treatment on your chipped tooth now may lead to other issues in future. Bacteria can settle in the jagged edges of your chipped or broken tooth which can result in cavities or infection of the tooth.

 

You may also start to avoid the damaged tooth by constantly chewing on the other side of your mouth. This can lead to sensitivity, strain or even more serious issues like lockjaw or tightening of the jaw muscles.

 

If you’ve chipped or broken a tooth, it will be more vulnerable to breaking and damage in future. This is why it’s so important to have your chipped tooth or broken tooth repaired and regularly monitored by your dentist.


How much does it cost to fix a chipped tooth?


The cost of fixing a chipped or broken tooth can vary depending on the damage to the tooth and the treatment required. Your dentist will assess the condition of your tooth and advise on the best course of action to repair it.

 

You can find the costs of all of our dental procedures under each treatment on our website.

 

If you have health insurance, your policy may cover some or most of the cost of your tooth repair. After your dentist advises you on your treatment plan, be sure to contact your insurance provider to confirm if your procedure is covered.

 

Worried that your broken tooth may break the bank? Don’t be!

 

At Green Door Dental, we’ve closed the door on financial stress with our flexible dental payment plans. Thanks to our easy and affordable finance options, there’s no need to put off repairing your chipped, broken or cracked tooth.

Chipped tooth treatment finance options
Breaking a tooth doesn’t have to break the bank! At Green Door Dental, we offer affordable payment plans so you can repair your tooth without any financial stress.


Need to get your chipped tooth checked out?

 

Don’t delay! Book your appointment online now so we can repair your tooth and get you smiling again.

 

Want to ask us a question? We’re always here to help! Give us a call or drop us a message — we’d love to hear from you!

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