So you have chipped or broken your tooth! Now what? Can it be repaired? That depends. Sometimes if the edge of the broken piece is way under the gumline or the tooth has split in half it may need to be extracted. But that usually doesn’t happen so chances are pretty good it can be saved and restored.
If the chipped area is very small, only involving the enamel, and is rough to your tongue the best option may be to simply smooth off the rough area.
More often the chip is larger and may have exposed the dentin (the inner layer with nerve endings) and may be sensitive to hot and cold or may be unsightly when you smile. The dentist may elect to restore the broken part of the tooth with composite resin bonded directly to the tooth. This can depend on the size of the broken piece and also on the patient’s bite.
If the broken piece is quite large and/or the patient has a heavy bite, the dentist may suggest a crown or veneer or onlay. These restorations can better withstand heavy bite forces (which is probably what caused the tooth to break in the first place) and will generally last longer.
If the tooth is broken off at the gumline or if the broken section has exposed the pulp (nerve) of the tooth it may first be necessary to do endodontics (root canal) to remove the nerve and then place a reinforcing post in the root and build the tooth up so that a crown (cap) can be placed.
Dental materials and techniques have evolved to the point that almost any broken tooth can be saved if the patient desires. The procedures can range from complicated, time consuming and expensive to conservative, quick and easy. So don’t despair if you have chipped or broken your tooth. Call your dentist ASAP for an exam to see what is involved. Whatever you do don’t put it off just because it doesn’t hurt. If you do, the exposed part may start to decay and when it does start to bother you it may require more extensive and expensive treatment to save it. So pick up the phone today and call your dentist.
If you are in the Anchorage area, give my office a call at 907-222-3242 to arrange for a FREE consultation. I can usually give you several options and then you can decide which one will work best for you. I have over 34 years of experience in restoring smiles and am a member of the Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. Visit our website at www.AnchorageHealthySmiles.com to learn more about our services. Like us on Facebook at Anchorage Healthy Smile Center to take advantage of specials we periodically post.
Terry J. Preece DDS