Even a small chip can be bad. While the chip might be barely noticeable, it can be just the beginning of further damage to the tooth. Read on to find out how bad a chip can be and what should be done about it.
A Chip is More Than a Chip
Your teeth are protected with a hard, strong, and long-lasting coating of enamel, making your teeth some of the hardest parts of your body. However, once that enamel is breached by a crack or a chip, the tooth is vulnerable to encroachment by bacteria. Sooner or later, that small chip could mean a cavity.
What To Do
When you notice (or feel) a chip, see your dentist right away. It won't take long for the problems to become obvious as you notice sensitivity when you eat and drink followed by pain in the area. If you wait for decay to develop and spread, your dentist might suggest a root canal procedure so that the tooth can be saved.
What Can Be Done
If you catch the chip soon enough, your dentist will attempt to repair the tooth using a special material that is shaped to cover the chip and make it impermeable. The resin used will look like your natural teeth and the bonding will prevent further damage to the tooth. This type of fix is best for new chips that are not too big.
Consider a Crown
A crown is the next step up for a chip that is too large to be dealt with using resin. A crown is like a covering for your tooth made of porcelain or other materials. It fits over your natural tooth and is bonded to it. It's not removable and can last for many years if taken care of. Crowns are ideal when the tooth is extensively damaged by a large crack or chip.
Also, crowns are usually used when decay has created the need for a root canal. After the root canal procedure, the crown is used to cover the damaged partial tooth to protect it and improve its appearance.
Veneers are an Option
In some cases, your dentist might suggest a veneer. A veneer is a super thin layer of strong bonding material that can also protect your tooth from further damage. This may be used when it's not practical to use a crown due to the location of the tooth or the chip.
For more information about coping with a chipped tooth, speak to a dentist such as Dr. Jon Douglas Lesan, DDS, RpH, PA.