With their ability to chomp through meat or large carrots, our teeth are incredibly strong. Unfortunately, they’re still capable of cracking, breaking, or getting chipped. While it might not hurt at first, the pain from a chipped tooth can come and go.

The tooth’s nerves are no longer safe.

This can cause you to develop sensitive teeth, which occurs with every 1 in 8 adults.

So what do you do when you’ve chipped your tooth? Keep reading to find out!

Make sure to act quickly. How you respond immediately after chipping a tooth could help you avoid that ebbing pain.

Potential Causes

From biting into a hard piece of candy to a minor accident, there are a few ways you might get a chipped tooth. Knowing the potential causes can help you take preventative measures in the future.

For example, you might chip your tooth playing sports—contact and non-contact. If you’re not using a mouthguard while you play, you’re more likely to get a broken tooth by the end of the game.

You might bite on something hard, like candy or a piece of ice.

Nipping at chicken wings or ribs on the bone could leave you with a chipped tooth, too.

Certain injuries could also result in a broken tooth. Make sure to wear your seatbelt while you’re in a moving vehicle. Avoid tripping by wearing comfortable shoes and keeping aware of your surroundings.

Some people use their teeth as a go-to tool. For example, you might use your teeth to open a bag. However, this can cause you to clamp your teeth together, leading to a chipped tooth.

What You Can Do

Here are a few tips that can help if you’ve chipped, cracked, or broken a tooth.

Chipped Tooth

If your tooth is chipped, use warm water to flush the inside of your mouth. Then, apply a cold compress to the lip or cheek area around the tooth for 10 minutes. This will ease the pain and reduce swelling.

You can also take an anti-inflammatory or over-the-counter pain reliever.

Clove oil can also help. The eugenol within the oil will numb the area.

If you can’t see a dentist right away, visit a drugstore for dental wax. A chipped tooth with a jagged edge could potentially slice your tongue. To avoid this, you can use the dental wax to protect the inside of your mouth.

In the meantime, avoid chewing using that tooth. You can also try flossing to ease irritation and pressure.

Cracked/Fractured Tooth

5% of adults fracture a tooth every year.

If you’ve cracked or fractured your tooth, you need to call your dentist. There’s no ideal way to treat this kind of injury at home.

Sometimes, a cracked tooth looks okay. However, you might notice a slight pain when you drink a beverage that’s too hot or too cold. If the pain is constant, you might have damaged a blood vessel or nerve.

You can tell the tooth is cracked if the pain occurs when you bite down and release.

See your dentist immediately if you have a fractured tooth.

Broken Tooth

You’ll want to see your dentist if a tooth is broken as well. They can take a look and determine if the break was caused by a cavity. If the tooth’s nerve is in danger, you might need a root canal.

In the meantime, here’s what you can do for a broken tooth:

  • Rinse your mouth out with warm water
  • Use a piece of gauze to apply pressure for 10 minutes if you’re bleeding
  • Apply a cold pack against the lips or cheek over the tooth to ease swelling
  • Take an over-the-counter pain reliever

If you can’t visit a dentist right away, visit a drugstore for temporary dental cement to cover the tooth.

What a Dentist Can Do

In some cases, your dentist will need to step in and help. First, they’ll perform a comprehensive dental exam to assess the situation. They might also use an X-ray to study how much damage has occurred.

Minor Chips

If you only have a minor chipped tooth, you likely won’t need treatment. Your dentist might use cosmetic contouring to smooth out a jagged edge. They can also use dental bonding to fill any gaps and fissures.

With dental bonding, the dentist will abrade the tooth before applying a conditioning liquid.

Then, they’ll apply a tooth-colored composite resin to your tooth. From there, they can form the resin into the right shape and reattach it to the chip.

More Extensive Damage

A chip or crack that goes beyond the surface will require more attention, however.

In some cases, the crack can reach the tooth’s pulp. This will require your dentist to perform a root canal.

During a root canal, an endodontist will remove the infected pulp. Then, they’ll sanitize your tooth from the inside. Using a rubbery material called gutta-percha, they’ll fill and seal the tooth.

Finally, they’ll cap the tooth with a filling or crown.

Getting a root canal is no more painful than the procedure for a filling.

If the root of a molar is fractured, an endodontist will need to perform a root amputation. This type of surgery, called a hemisection, can save the rest of your tooth.

When a root canal or a hemisection isn’t enough, the endodontist will need to extract the tooth completely. Deeper cracks often require extraction, as do cracks that extend below the gum line.

After the tooth extraction is complete, you can request a tooth implant.

Repairing a chipped tooth will only require one treatment. An extraction or surgery, however, might require you to miss work. You’ll need the weekend to rest following the procedure.

Brush Up & Bite Down What To Do For a Chipped Tooth

While a chipped tooth can range from mild to painful, there are still a few steps you can take to ease the pain. The best way to ensure your teeth are healthy and safe, however, is to visit your dentist. They’ll take a look and assess the damage.

Schedule an appointment at our Chattanooga dental offices today to start feeling relief!

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