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How a Dentist can Help Repair a Chipped or Broken Tooth

March 24, 2014

You are crunching a hard candy or a cube of ice when you suddenly feel something solid in your mouth that does not taste, dissolve, or melt. Out of curiosity, you see what it could be and get a gross feeling as you recognize that it is… a small piece of your tooth.

The enamel that encompasses your teeth is certainly hard (the hardest substance in the body, in fact), but its strength has limits. Falling on your face, receiving a hard blow to the jaw, or biting on something very hard (especially if the tooth has some decay) can cause a tooth to splinter or break. If in case you realize you have chipped or broken a tooth accidentally, do not worry; there are several things your dentist can do to fix a chipped or broken tooth.

You need to see your dentist at the earliest when you realize you have chipped, broken, or fractured your tooth. If you do not seek immediate assistance, your tooth could become infected or damaged further, which may cause you to lose your tooth entirely. In the meanwhile – before you can reach to your dentist’s office – you can try the below self-care measures.

  • If it is too painful, take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Before you take the pain reliever, however, thoroughly rinse your mouth with salt water.
  • If the chip has caused a pointed or sharp edge, cover it with a sugarless chewing gum. This helps protect the inside of your lips or cheek, as well as your tongue from cutting.
  • If you need to eat, eat only soft foods, and refrain biting down on the damaged tooth.

The treatment for a chipped or broken tooth depends on how badly it is damaged. If it is only a little chip, your dentist will repair it in the matter of a few hours. A severely damaged or broken tooth, however, may require multiple visits to your dentist. The cost of repairs in such cases is high, as well. Below are some ways, which your dentist may employ to fix a chipped or broken tooth.

Filling or Bonding

If it is just a small piece of your tooth enamel chipped, then your dentist may fix the damage with a dental filling. If it is the front side of your tooth or the side that other people see when you talk or smile, your dentist will use a bonding procedure.

The bonding procedure is simple, and it involves using a tooth-colored composite resin. To bond a chipped tooth, your dentist first scrapes its surface so that the bonding material can adhere to it. Then, your dentist will apply an adhesive material to the tooth’s surface. The bonding material then follows this. Your dentist will then shape the material so that it looks like a natural tooth. Finally, using an ultraviolet light, the dentist hardens the material.

Dental Crown or Cap

If a large piece of tooth splinters off, your dentist may grind away some part of the remaining healthy tooth and cover it with a dental crown or cap. This crown or tooth-shaped cap improves the appearance of the tooth, as well as protects it. Permanent crowns can be of metal (including gold and silver), all ceramic, all resin, or porcelain. Each type of crown has its own benefits. While metal crowns are the sturdiest, resin and porcelain crowns, look almost identical to the natural tooth. If the upper part of the tooth is ruined completely, yet its root remains unharmed, your dentist will probably place a metal post in the intact root to create a base on which the crown can rest.

To get a crown, you may require visiting your dentist a couple of times. On the first visit, your dentist will take several X-rays to determine if the roots of the tooth are intact. If they find no problem, they will numb the damaged tooth and gums surrounding it. They will then remove some of the remaining tooth to make a room for a crown. If the chip or break has left a big piece of tooth missing, your dentist may use a filling material to build up a structure to hold the crown. Using a putty-like material, your dentist will then make an impression of the damaged tooth, as well as the opposite tooth. The impression of both teeth is sent to a lab where a custom crown is made. For the time being, until your crown is getting ready, your dentist may place a temporary acrylic crown over your damaged tooth.

In your second visit, as scheduled by your dentist, your dentist will remove the temporary acrylic crown, and then fit the permanent crown by cementing it, over your broken or chipped tooth.

Root Canal

If a tooth break or chip is severe enough to expose the pulp, bacteria present in the mouth can permeate and infect the pulp. You will know whether your pulp is damaged or diseased, when your tooth hurts, becomes sensitive to heat, or changes color. The tissue of the pulp dies, and if it is not removed immediately, the tooth gets infected for which extraction becomes essential. The root canal is the procedure that involves removing the damaged pulp, cleaning the root canal thoroughly, and then sealing the canal.

Root Canal, unlike other treatments for chipped or broken tooth, is a painful treatment and, therefore, you need to go to a dentist who has various sedation dental options available.

Dental Veneers

If the front side of your tooth or the side that is visible when you talk or smile is chipped or broken, dental veneers can fix the problem. A dental veneer is a thin tooth-colored wafer of porcelain or resin composite material that covers the entire front side of the tooth.

For dental veneers, your dentist will first remove 0.3 to 1.2 mm of enamel from the front surface of your tooth. The dentist will then make an imprint of the tooth. The imprint will be sent to a dental lab where a custom veneer will be made. After the veneer is ready, in a week or two, you will have to visit your dentist again to have it placed. Your dentist, to place the veneer, will first scrape the front surface of your tooth. Then, they will apply a cement to the veneer and place it over your tooth. Thereafter, using a special light, your dentist will make the cement harden quickly.

These are pretty much all the ways in which your dentist can help restore a chipped or broken tooth. If you are in Pennsylvania, requiring immediate assistance to fix chipped or broken tooth, Flenniken Family Dentistry can help you. Flenniken Family Dentistry, a team of good dentists in Pennsylvania, is an expert in repairing a chipped or broken tooth. Through various dental procedures, like dental filling, bonding, root canal therapy, applying veneers, and dental crowns, they can restore a chipped or broken tooth to its natural state. Aside from restorative dental treatments, Flenniken Family Dentistry also provides a wide range of general and cosmetic dental treatments.

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