With all the different ways to damage your teeth, chipped or cracked teeth are fairly common. While you may want to see a dentist as soon as possible after damaging a tooth, there are some things you can do at home until you get an appointment.
This guide from Flossy goes over what causes teeth to chip or crack, what you should do if it happens to you, and the different options you have for fixing your teeth.
Some people think of their teeth as incredibly durable and able to withstand any type of damage. However, teeth are not very hard, making them susceptible to getting broken.
Enamel comprises the outer layer of the teeth, and it may very well be the hardest substance in the human body. However, on a hardness scale of 1-10 (with 10 being steel), the enamel is only a five. What’s more, the enamel is prone to breaking down, exposing the more brittle inner layers of the teeth.
Because teeth are not that hard, they can easily chip or crack due to any of the following reasons:
If you crack or chip a tooth, you should make an appointment to see your dentist as soon as possible. While it isn't recommended — and often, not even possible — to mend a broken tooth at home, there are some things you can do while you wait for your appointment.
After chipping a tooth, you want to minimize any tooth pain by:
Rinse your mouth with warm water and apply cold compresses to your face to keep down any swelling. If you feel any pain, you can take a low dose of an over-the-counter pain reliever, such as ibuprofen.
If chipping your tooth results in a jagged edge, you can apply dental wax over it to keep it from cutting your tongue. Any dental wax will do the job. After you get your hands on some, roll it into a small ball and stick it to the chipped part of your tooth.
You may crack a tooth and not even know it. Try:
If you hear a strange sound come from your mouth after doing something potentially damaging, make an appointment with your dentist. They can locate a crack even if it’s not detectable to you.
You may feel sensitivity or pain due to the crack. Minimize eating or drinking anything too hot or cold. If the pain bothers you, you can take an over-the-counter painkiller for some relief.
If a tooth pops out of your mouth, saving it is still possible. You can:
Call your dentist and make an emergency appointment. You want to get to your dentist within the hour for the best chances of saving your tooth.
While you get to your appointment, use a gauze pad to place the tooth back into the socket and firmly press down on it. If you can’t place your tooth inside the socket, keep it in a small cup of milk or saltwater until you get to your dentist.
The answer is yes. Damage to the tooth can range from barely visible cosmetic damage to a serious injury. Tooth cracks can run all the way up to the tooth's root, which contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. These cracks give bacteria a way to enter the inner part of the tooth, which can lead to an infection and require a root canal or tooth extraction.
The problem with deciding not to see a dentist is that you have no way of knowing how severe the damage is. Only an X-ray, which your dentist must do, can provide a full overview of the damage.
When it comes to chips, their appearance may not bother you. Still, they can cut into the soft tissues of your mouth, causing swelling, pain, and — potentially — an infection. Chipped teeth can also damage the healthy teeth they contact when you’re biting or chewing.
Not every crack or chip is severe enough to need treatment. Studies show that most chips and cracks affect only the enamel of the tooth, which shouldn’t lead to serious complications. However, only your dentist can decide how serious the damage is.
On the other hand, if you think that your teeth damage is serious, you should see your dentist for an emergency appointment. Losing a tooth, bleeding excessively, or experiencing severe pain are all legitimate reasons to get a dentist appointment within several hours.
While you can’t technically repair a chipped or cracked tooth at home, you can keep the damage from getting worse.
Many drugstores sell temporary repair kits, including dental wax to place over a chipped tooth or a dental paste that can fill the gaps left by tooth damage.
These kits only provide a temporary solution, so you don’t lose the function of your teeth while waiting to see your dentist. These kits do not address underlying tooth damage, which can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Your dentist can offer the following treatments to mend a chipped tooth:
Depending on how much your tooth chips, it may not be too serious and not require any treatment.
The main concern with a chipped tooth is that it can slice your tongue, cheek, or another part of the mouth. Over time, a chipped tooth can damage surrounding teeth when you bite down or chew your food. For this reason, it’s always best to seek prompt treatment.
Aside from the potential complications, you may not like the appearance of a chip.
A crack will need to be treated with one of the following options:
A crack can potentially be more serious, especially if it spreads to the tooth's root. Some mild cracks may not require any treatment and can be safely left alone.
If you chip or crack your tooth, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist right away — even if the damage doesn’t seem that serious. Leaving it untreated can expose you to various dental complications, some of which can even lead to losing your tooth.
If you have a chipped or cracked tooth but do not have dental insurance, you can still get seen by a dentist. Flossy can connect you with a low-cost dentistry professional from our network so you can get treated as soon as possible.
Find a dentist near you today.
How Hard is Tooth Enamel Compared to Other Materials? | BBC Science Focus Magazine
Enamel Craze Lines | http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25233570NCBI
Treatment Decision-Making of Cracked Teeth: Survey of American Endodontists | NCBI