How to Handle a Chipped Chomper

Smiling man with a chipped toothMaybe you bumped your tooth on the microphone at karaoke or took a softball to the face while playing catch in the backyard. Whatever the cause, there’s nothing like accidentally chipping a tooth to make a grown person feel a bit slow and uncoordinated. Once you get over your embarrassment, though, you should follow these basic steps to ensure that your smile (and possibly your pride) returns to normal as soon as possible.

Save the Chip and Follow Basic Dental First Aid

If you’re able to locate the broken piece of tooth, save it and bring it with you to your dental appointment. Depending on the size and nature of the breakage, your dentist might be able to secure the chip back into place using dental cement. If you can’t find the chipped piece, don’t fret; your dentist has several ways to restore the dimensions of your injured tooth. In the meantime, follow these basic first aid steps:

  • If there are any sharp or jagged edges, cover them with a small piece of orthodontic wax (available at most drug stores) or sugarless gum.
  • DO NOT attempt to file down any sharp edges yourself. Doing so could further damage the tooth.
  • Take a dose of over-the-counter pain medication (like Tylenol) if the area is sore.
  • Avoid using the chipped tooth to bite down on hard, sticky candies or crunchy items like popcorn.

Why Seeing Your Dentist is a Priority

Chipped enamel is not necessarily considered a dental emergency, but you should call your family dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible. What may look like a small chip could actually be a small crack or fracture that will worsen over time, leading to an increased risk for tooth decay and further structural damage.

Treatment Options for a Chipped Tooth

If cementing the chip back into place is not an option, your dentist will probably recommend bonding the tooth. This very simple, very straightforward procedure involves applying a small daub of composite resin (a sturdy, tooth-colored material used to fill cavities) to the tooth’s edge. After curing and hardening the resin, your dentist will shape and polish it so it blends in with the natural tooth. In some cases, a large chip may necessitate a larger or sturdier restoration, like a porcelain veneer or even a dental crown.

About Peddicord Family Dentistry

Dr. Erika Peddicord earned her DDS degree from the University of Iowa College of Dentistry and opened Peddicord Family Dental in 2009. Her enthusiasm for building lasting relationships with her patients and her dedication to oral health set her apart as an outstanding family and cosmetic dentist. New and returning patients can schedule an appointment with Dr. Peddicord at our Ankeny, IA dentist’s office by calling (515) 963-3339. We proudly serve patients and families in Bondurant, Polk City, Elkhart, Alleman, and Cambridge.