Chipped tooth: Causes, Symptoms and 4 ways to Handle

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Enamel, or the robust outer layer of your teeth, is one of the most powerful substances in your body. It does, however, have limitations. A chipped tooth is the result of a hard blow or severe wear and strain. As a result, the tooth surface becomes jagged, which can be harsh, painful, and disfiguring.

Reasons for a chipped tooth

Teeth can get chipped for a variety of causes. The following are some of the most common causes:

  • Biting down on hard substances, like ice or hard candy
  • Falls or car accidents
  • Playing contact sports without a mouthguard
Playing contact sports with a mouthguard
Treatment options for a chipped tooth. Factors contributing to chipped tooth. Chipped teeth complications
  • Grinding your teeth when you sleep

Factors contributing to chipped tooth

It seems to be the reason that weakened teeth are more prone to chipping than robust teeth. Some factors that diminish tooth strength include:

  • Tooth decay and cavities erode enamel. Large fillings can potentially weaken teeth.
  • Teeth grinding can cause enamel wear.
  • Acid-producing meals, such as fruit juices, coffee, and spicy foods, can wear away enamel and expose the tooth surface.
  • Acid reflux and heartburn are two digestive diseases that can cause stomach acid to enter your mouth and harm tooth enamel.
  • Eating disorders or excessive alcohol consumption might result in frequent vomiting, which can create enamel-eating acid.
  • Sugar causes bacteria to flourish in your mouth, and these bacteria can damage your enamel.
  • Tooth enamel deteriorates with time, so if you’re 50 or older, you’re more likely to have weaker enamel. Research published in the Journal of Endodontics found that nearly two-thirds of individuals with broken teeth were over the age of 50.

Which teeth are in danger?

Any weaker tooth is vulnerable. However, one researcher found that the second lower molar, presumably because it requires a lot of pressure when chewing, and teeth with fillings are the most prone to chipping. Having said that, even healthy teeth can be chipped.

See more: Dental crowns and what are onlays and 3/4 crowns?

Symptoms of a chipped tooth

If the chip is minor and not at the front of your mouth, you may not even notice it. When you do have symptoms, they may include:

  • When you run your tongue over your teeth, you may see a jagged surface.
  • The gums around the chipped tooth are irritated.
  • Irritation of your tongue from “grabbing” it on the tooth’s uneven and rough edge discomfort from biting pressure on the tooth, which can be severe if the chip is close to or exposes the tooth’s nerves
Symptoms of a chipped tooth
Treatment options for a chipped tooth. Factors contributing to chipped tooth. Chipped teeth complications

Identifying a chipped tooth

Your dentist can diagnose a chipped tooth by visually inspecting your mouth. They will also consider your symptoms and inquire about incidents that may have contributed to the chipping.

Treatment options for a chipped tooth

The treatment of a chipped tooth is determined by its location, severity, and symptoms. It is not a medical emergency unless it is causing extreme discomfort and considerably interfering with eating and sleeping.

Yet, you should see your doctor as soon as possible to avoid infection or further harm to the tooth. Minor chips are often repaired by merely smoothing and polishing the tooth.

Your doctor may propose the following for more extensive chips:

Reattachment of teeth

If you still have the broken tooth piece, place it in a glass of milk to keep it wet. The calcium will aid in its growth. If you don’t have any milk, tuck it into your gum without swallowing it.

Then go to your dentist right away. They may be able to reattach the piece to your tooth.

See more: How to Handle 3 Types Of Dental Emergencies While Working Abroad


The surface of your tooth is glued and molded with a composite resin (plastic) substance or porcelain (layers of ceramic). The substance is hardened and dried using ultraviolet lamps. After curing, the material is shaped again until it perfectly fits your tooth.

Bonds can be issued for a period of up to ten years.

Veneer of porcelain

Your dentist will smooth away some of the tooth’s enamel to make place for the veneer before installing it. They usually shave off less than a milimeter.

Your dentist will take an imprint of your tooth and send it to a facility where the veneer will be created. (In the meanwhile, a temporary veneer may be employed.) Your dentist will bind the permanent veneer to your tooth once it is complete.

The veneer might endure up to 30 years due to the high quality of the materials used.

Onlay in dentistry

If the chip only affects a small portion of your tooth, your dentist may recommend a dental onlay, which is commonly used on the surface of molars. (If your tooth has considerable damage, your dentist may propose a full dental crown.) You may be given an anesthetic so that the dentist may examine your teeth to see whether there is enough room for an onlay.

The dentist may examine your teeth to see whether there is enough room for an onlay
Treatment options for a chipped tooth. Factors contributing to chipped tooth. Chipped teeth complications

In many circumstances, your doctor will manufacture an onlay by taking a mold of your tooth and sending it to a dental lab. When they have the onlay, they will fit it to your tooth and cement it in place.

With technological advancements, some dentists can mill porcelain onlays immediately in the office and put them on the same day.

Dental onlays can endure for decades, depending on how often you eat things that cause wear and tear on the onlay and which tooth was impacted. A molar, for example, will wear more easily if it is subjected to a lot of pressure during chewing.

Dental expenses

The cost of living varies substantially depending on where you reside in the nation. Other criteria include the kind of tooth implicated, the size of the chip, and whether the pulp (where the nerves lie) is impacted. In general, though, here is what you should anticipate paying:

  • Tooth planning or smoothing. About $100.
  • Tooth reattachment. You’ll have to pay for the dental exam, which is usually between $50 to $350. However, because tooth reattachment doesn’t require much in the way of materials, the charge should be minimal.
  • Bonding. $100 to $1,000, depending on the complexity involved.
  • Veneers or onlays. $500 to $2,000, but this will depend on the material used and how much the tooth has to be prepared before affixing the veneer/crown.

See more: Porcelain Veneers and 3 factors influence the price of Porcelain Veneers

Self-care for a broken tooth

While you will almost certainly require a dentist to fix a chipped tooth, there are precautions you may do to prevent tooth harm until you visit your doctor.

  • To protect your tongue and gums, place temporary dental filling material, a teabag, sugar-free gum, or dental wax over the sharp edge of the tooth.
  • If you feel discomfort, take an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB).
  • If the chipped tooth is causing irritation, apply ice to the outside of your cheek.
  • Self-care for a broken tooth
  • While you will almost certainly require a dentist to fix a chipped tooth, there are precautions you may do to prevent tooth harm until you visit your doctor.
  • Floss to eliminate food that has become stuck between your teeth, which can put additional pressure on your chipped tooth as you eat.
  • Avoid chewing with your chipped tooth.
  • To numb the region, rub clove oil around any aching gums.
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports or at night if you grind your teeth.

Chipped teeth complications

Infection might occur if the chip is large enough to harm the base of your tooth. A root canal is typically used as treatment. Here are some signs of such an infection:

  • Pain when eating
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Fever
  • Bad breath or sour taste in your mouth
  • Swollen glands in your neck or jaw area


A chipped tooth is a rather frequent dental injury. In most situations, it is not painful and may be properly treated with a number of dental treatments.

While it is not often considered a dental emergency, the sooner you get treatment, the better your chances of limiting any tooth complications. Once the dental operation is completed, recovery is usually quick.

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