Chipped Tooth & Broken Tooth
Chipped or broken teeth are a problem people frequently encounter. Although tooth enamel is the strongest material in the body, it still has its limits. Teeth can chip or break following trauma, like falls and sports injuries or simple accidents, like biting into a bone or fork. Teeth can be especially vulnerable if decay or cracks have weakened the tooth over time.
Often times, patients will report a broken tooth happened at an unexpected time, like biting into soft bread. This can happen if the tooth has been compromised in the past. Do you chew on ice chips or did you in your younger days? That can leave stress fractures in your enamel, weakening teeth over time.
A chipped tooth can also occur during sleep when one unknowingly clenches or grinds. This can also lead to sporadic sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures in multiple areas of the mouth, which can be hard to pinpoint at times. These types of habits can seem impossible to control, yet are potentially very damaging. In order to protect the teeth and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) it may be best to wear an occlusal night guard.
How to Treat a Chipped Tooth or Broken Tooth
A clipped tooth or broken tooth can be unsightly, can feel uncomfortably sharp to the tongue, and some can cause pain if nerves are affected. There are many things we can do to help in these different situations. What is needed to fix a chipped tooth depends on the location and size of the chip.
- Some small chips limited to the enamel can simply be smoothed so no sharp edges remain and they no longer bother the tongue.
- Other chips may require a tooth colored “filling” or bonding to replace the missing tooth structure and restore the appearance and integrity of the tooth. These “fillings” can never be as strong as the enamel that was originally on the tooth, but are a good substitute.
- Larger chips such as broken cusps on molar teeth may require a “build-up” to replace the broken cusp and a crown to cover and protect the tooth. Although the sensitivity caused by most chipped teeth will go away after replacing the missing tooth structure, some larger chips or cracks extend into the pulp (nerve and blood supply) of a tooth. If that is the case a “root canal” may be necessary to eliminate any pain or infection prior to restoring the broken tooth.
If you notice a chipped or broken tooth and live in the Boulder area, give us a call for an evaluation as soon as possible to prevent sensitivity, infection or further loss of tooth structure. We would be happy to help and get you back to smiling, quickly.