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Why Do Teeth Get Chipped?

Apr 2, 2018 | Uncategorized

The average person will experience a chipped or broken tooth at some point in their life.  Yet many will have no idea why the chip occurred in the first place. There are all sorts of causes of chipped teeth.

Below, we delve into these causes and explain how to proceed after your tooth has chipped.

The Many Causes of Chipped Teeth

Accidental injury is one of the top causes of chipped teeth.  Such injuries occur when driving, playing sports and living everyday life.  Something as simple as tripping on a step can cause a fall and a chipped tooth.  Teeth can chip for all different reasons beyond injury. Anything from clenching the teeth to grinding the teeth and bite discrepancies can cause a chip.  Even tooth decay can cause teeth to chip. This occurs as the decay extends to the point that the surface of the tooth is undermined and breakage occurs. The bottom line is if you have a cavity, it is problematic beyond obvious reasons.  Your cavity really can weaken your teeth to the point that you are that much more likely to suffer a chipped tooth.

Most people are a bit surprised to learn improper biting, a bad bite or simply biting something hard can chip teeth.  The average person assumes his or her teeth are so hard that the biting process could not cause such damage. However, there is a chance your teeth will chip when you bite into ice, hard candy, bones in meat or other tough foods.  Finally, improper oral hygiene can heighten your vulnerability for a chipped tooth. This is especially true for patients who have tooth enamel that is thinning or damaged.

The Issue of Pain and Location

It is interesting to note you might not feel pain in your tooth unless the chip is particularly large.  Large chips will expose the nerves in the tooth’s inner layer. If the chip exposes such nerves within your tooth, you will likely notice heightened sensitivity and possibly even some pain as you chew or drink hot/cold beverages. Chips on the pointed surfaces of the teeth in the rear of the mouth are known as broken cusps. This type of chip is usually the most painful. Do not attempt to treat such a chip on your own. Meet with your dentist to determine if a dental onlay or crown is necessary to restore your tooth’s shape and ward off additional damage.

How to Proceed After Chipping a Tooth

The most important thing to do is visit the dentist right away.  An oral health expert’s analysis of your chipped tooth is essential to maintaining your oral health and returning your smile to its previous form.  The dentist will determine if a procedure is necessary. It is possible no treatment will be required if the chip is especially small. If you have such a diminutive chip in your tooth and you are certain it is so small the dentist will not be able to do anything about it, you should try a pain reliever as long as it is safe for your particular body chemistry.

If the chip is severe, rinse your mouth with water.  This is a small step you can take to improve the condition of the tooth until you can meet with the dentist.  If you opt for a pain reliever, take something besides aspirin. Aspirin will bump up the risk of heavy bleeding.  If your mouth as a whole was injured during the accident or if your soft tissue swells, apply an ice pack. Consider adding a tooth saver from the local pharmacy to your medicine cabinet just in case such an emergency arises.  Put the chipped portion of the tooth in a glass of milk or your own saliva. Above all, you should handle the tooth in a gentle manner. Refrain from scrubbing the tooth. Bring it to the dentist to determine the best approach for saving the tooth as well as your smile.

Call our Leawood, KS, dental office to make an appointment with a dentist who may be able to help you find out more about this topic, and improve your oral health.