A broken or chipped tooth can have a negative impact on your appearance and your oral health. If you recently fractured a tooth, it is important to address the problem as soon as possible to reduce the risk of further damage.
In this article, Cathedral City, CA, dentist Bruno Lemay explains what patients should do if they chip a tooth. He will also offer a brief overview of treatment for chipped teeth at Desert Dental Alternatives.
What to Do If You Chip a Tooth
Dental enamel is the strongest tissue in the human body, but it is not invulnerable to damage. A tooth may chip because of physical trauma, decay, or disease. Sometimes it can happen when eating something hard or crunchy. If you break a tooth, follow these guidelines until you can make it to our Cathedral City, CA practice:
- Call our office at (760) 324-4450 for further instructions.
- Rinse your mouth immediately with warm saltwater.
- If you have discomfort, take an over-the-counter pain reliever.
- Avoid biting down on the broken tooth.
- Eat only soft foods until you can see Dr. Lemay.
- If you can, locate any broken tooth fragments and bring them with you to your appointment.
- Dr. Lemay will recommend treatment based on the severity of the problem.
Treatment Options Available
Superficial cracks and chips can usually be repaired with bonding. This procedure involves adding composite resin material to the affected tooth to conceal any flaws. Bonding is minimally invasive and only takes about an hour to complete. For optimal results, dental bonding should be redone approximately every five to seven years.
Porcelain veneers are custom-crafted restorations that adhere to the surfaces of the front teeth and are usually used to cover up minor chips or flaws. To fabricate veneers, a skilled technician adds layers of high-quality ceramic, creating natural restorations that mimic dental enamel.
To place veneers, Dr. Lemay must remove small amounts of enamel from your teeth. For this reason, this treatment is non-reversible. Porcelain veneers can last 20 years or more with proper care, but they will likely need to be replaced at some point.
If the fracture is moderate to severe, bonding or veneers may not suffice. In these cases, our team can place a dental crown to protect your tooth. A crown covers the whole tooth, providing strength and reinforcement.
To prepare the tooth for a crown, Dr. Lemay removes some natural enamel. This creates space for the restoration, as well as provides a solid foundation. Crowns can be made from several different materials, including metal, zirconia, or ceramic. With proper maintenance, they can last for decades.
Root Canal Therapy
If a fracture reaches the pulp of a tooth and the tooth becomes infected, root canal therapy must be performed. If bacteria breach the pulp chamber, the infection can spread quickly if it is not treated in a timely manner. During root canal therapy, the nerves and blood vessels are removed from inside the tooth, and the surfaces are disinfected. The root canals are filled with a restorative material and the tooth is sealed with a filling. In many cases, a dental crown is added for optimal stability.
Extraction and Dental Implant
When a fracture is severe, Dr. Lemay will help you weigh the risks and benefits of treatment. In some cases, an extraction may be recommended. For example, if there is not sufficient tooth structure remaining, then the tooth may not have a good long-term prognosis.
Whenever a tooth is removed, we recommend replacing it. Dental implants are the most successful and reliable treatment. In fact, implants can last a lifetime when taken care of properly.
Contact Us to Learn More
Have you recently chipped a tooth? Schedule a consultation at our Cathedral City, CA, practice right away. We can help determine the best course of treatment for you. Contact us online or give us a call at (760) 324-4450.