As strong as teeth can be, it is possible for a tooth to chip or crack due to a trauma or just normal wear and tear. If the crack is not very deep or if the chip is small, you may not even feel it. But if it reaches below the top layer of enamel, you may feel pain or sensitivity in that tooth.
What should you do about a cracked or chipped tooth? It depends on the situation. Here are a few different scenarios and how to handle them.
A Small Chip
If your tooth is just slightly chipped, like a small corner breaks off, keep the piece if you can. Put the piece of tooth in saliva or milk to keep it from drying out and call your dentist. Your dentist may be able to reattach the piece of tooth that chipped off if you can get to your dentist the same day. If the piece is lost or can’t be saved, your tooth may be able to be patched with composite resin. The tooth may need to be covered with a crown if the chip can’t be reattached or patched.
A Large Chip or Break
In cases where a large piece of your tooth chips or breaks off, it may still be able to be reattached if you get it to your dentist soon enough. Save any pieces of the tooth you have in saliva or milk and take them with you to the dentist. Larger chips or broken teeth are less likely to be salvageable, so you may require a crown to be placed over the remaining portion of the tooth as long as the root is still intact. If the tooth is too damaged to save even the root, a dental implant or bridge may need to replace it.
A Cracked Tooth
Cracks can develop in one or more teeth for a variety of reasons from chewing hard foods to grinding your teeth. There are a variety of different types of cracks and they require different types of treatments.
- Craze lines. Teeth may develop tiny little hairline fractures that are only in the top layer of enamel. These are normal and may not require any treatment unless there is pain or sensitivity.
- Cracks that extend from the crown to the roots. If a crack starts in the crown of the tooth and extends down below the gum line, it may be able to be saved depending on how far below the gum line it extends. If the crack is too long, the tooth may need to be extracted and replaced.
- Split tooth. When the crack is deep enough to nearly split the tooth in half, it will most likely need to be extracted and replaced.
- Cracks that start in the roots and extend upwards. If the crack begins in the root under the gum line and extends upward, it will most likely need to be replaced as well. This is especially true if the tooth gets infected.
What Determines if a Cracked or Chipped Tooth is Salvageable?
The key deciding factors in whether or not your chipped or cracked tooth can be saved are as follows:
- The depth of the damage. How deep the crack or chip is in the tooth will determine its salvageability. If it extends into the inner pulp of the tooth it could do irreparable damage.
- The extent of the damage. How much of the tooth breaks off makes a difference as well. If the majority of the crown is gone but the root and pulp can be saved, a crown may be able to restore the tooth.
- The location of the damage. If the crack is below the gum line, the chances of the tooth being salvageable are lower.
- How promptly it is treated. The sooner you get to your dentist for treatment, the more likely your tooth can be saved.
Got a Chipped or Cracked Tooth? Call Contemporary Endodontics of Oklahoma
If you have a tooth that is chipped or cracked, call Contemporary Endodontics of Oklahoma as soon as possible at 405-285-5042 . We will see you in our office according to the urgency of your situation. Be sure to save any portion of the tooth that you can in milk or saliva and bring it with you to your appointment.