What Causes Teeth To Chip? Signs & Treatment

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You don’t need to get into a back-alley brawl in order to get chipped teeth.

If you’ve ever experienced a chipped tooth, you know how uncomfortable and unattractive it can look. Not only that, but having an untreated chipped tooth can lead to other other oral health problems.

So the importance of taking care of a chipped tooth as soon as possible is monumental. That’s why we’re going to cover all of your options for doing so.

Chipping Teeth Causes

There’s not one or even two basic causes of teeth chipping. The reasons can vary widely depending on your lifestyle, age, and a number of other factors.

Why Are My Teeth Chipping?

If you didn’t chip your tooth the obvious way — knocking the tooth against something hard — there may be an underlying reason, or “risk factors.” Usually it’s something that’s not so obvious.

One reason that can lead to teeth chipping is nighttime grinding, also called bruxism. One in three people suffer from this, according to the according to the Academy of General Dentistry. So it’s not a rare condition.

Grinding and clenching slowly wears down and erodes the teeth, especially along the surfaces most involved in chewing. It weakens the enamel, which makes it more susceptible to chipping. The American Dental Association (ADA) actually lists it as a symptom of grinding your teeth.

Another reason your teeth may be chipping could be poor nutrition. The foods you do — and don’t — eat greatly affect the strength of your teeth. For example, eating foods with a lot of sugars, starches, and acid can erode the enamel in your teeth and make them weaker.

You may also have a bad bite, meaning it’s imbalanced and some of your teeth take the brunt of each bite rather than being properly distributed across all of the teeth. If this is the case, you will probably be able to see that your teeth are crooked. Although it’s possible to have straight-looking teeth but still have an uneven bite.

What Causes Teeth To Break?

When you break a tooth, you may not realize it at first. Sometimes, the pain may not be immediate — you might just notice it visually.

And there are several acute reasons for broken teeth:

  • Eating hard candy or food
  • Trauma to the face from an accident
  • Damage from playing sports
  • Moderate pressure to teeth with untreated cavities
  • A tongue or lip piercing as it can bump against your teeth and wear them down
  • Using your teeth as tools (biting open a bag, opening a can, pulling apart things, etc)
Chipped or broken teeth can happen if you grind your teeth at night, have poor nutrition, or you have a crooked bite. It can also happen when you eat hard foods or have some sort of trauma or injury to your face.

Chipped Teeth Symptoms

Man suffering toothacheThe symptoms of a chipped tooth are pretty obvious: pain, a sharp edge to your tooth that wasn’t there before, and a visually break or crack on your tooth.

But what if you leave your teeth chipped? What happens if you don’t take care of it right away? Nothing good, that’s for sure.

Signs Of Chipped Tooth

If you don’t treat a chipped tooth, you may experience more than just pain and an unsightly tooth.

Complications of an untreated chipped tooth can include:

  • Extreme pain (usually when eating or drinking)
  • Heightened sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks
  • Fever
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Swollen glands in your neck and/or jaw

As you can see, not taking care of a chipped tooth can make your day-to-day life miserable.

In addition to having a visible chip in your tooth, you may experience pain and a sharp edge to the tooth.

How To Get Rid Of Chipped Teeth

So now you may be asking, “What can I do about a chipped tooth? Can I get it fixed?”

The short answer is yes, but let’s look at the more detailed answer so you get the full picture.

Do Chipped Teeth Grow Back?

Unfortunately, chipped and cracked teeth do not grow back. Once a piece of a tooth has come off, it will not regrow, no matter what you do.

That’s why it’s so important to take as many preventative steps as possible.

Home Remedies For Chipped Teeth

Just because a chipped tooth won’t grow back, that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it on your own.

You won’t be able to fix the tooth at home, but you can do things to help with the symptoms until you see your dentist (which should be as soon as possible after the fact). Following these home treatment steps can keep you from getting an infection or from experiencing any complications.

Try these treatment options after noticing a chipped or cracked tooth:

  • Take over-the-counter pain medicine, like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.
  • Rinse your mouth with salt water as this will help keep it clean.
  • If the tooth as a sharp or jagged edge, put a piece of wax or sugarless gum over it. This will keep it from cutting your tongue and mouth.
  • Eat only soft foods to avoid biting down on the chipped tooth.

Besides these temporary treatment options, you should visit your dentist for a full and complete repair.

How To Fix Chipped And Broken Teeth

The treatment your dentist gives you for a chipped or broken tooth depends on the severity. Here are some general guidelines for what that might look like.

Chipped Teeth

Smiling senior woman with new dental implants sitting in the dental office and looking at the mirrorIf it’s a small chip, your dentist may just smooth out the sharp edge and polish it for sightliness. With a moderate chip, your dentist may need to place a filling or a crown over the chipped tooth so you can chew normally and have a regular appearance. If the chip is large enough that the nerve is exposed, you will probably need a root canal and then a crown on top of that.

Cracked Teeth

A mildly cracked tooth may not need treatment, but it’s safest to visit a dental professional. They may have to simply polish the tooth to smooth out rough edges. However, with a more serious crack, the crack may have travelled to the root. And if it has cracked through the enamel and dentin of the tooth, it may become loose, leading to a lost tooth or bleeding gums.

Depending on the severity, a cracked tooth may require a root canal or some sort of tooth bonding.

Cost Of Healing Chipped Teeth

It really depends on the severity of the tooth injury and whether it’s a chip or a crack. But generally speaking, here are some cost guidelines for repairing your tooth.

  • Planing or smoothing = $100
  • Reattachment = up to $350
  • Bonding = up to $1,000
  • Veneer or crown = up to $2,000

You can imagine how poor oral health, an acute mouth injury, or any of the other causes we mentioned could really hurt your wallet.

One way to help you save money on dental care — regardless of insurability or service — is a dental discount plan. You can save up to 60% on dental care just by showing your membership card — and it’s free to sign up. You would just pay a small annual fee.

If you realize you have a chipped tooth, you can do things like eat soft foods, take pain meds, and keep up good oral hygiene until you can see your dentist. And even though repairing a chipped tooth can be expensive, it’s a problem you should take care of (plus, there are many ways to fund the dental care).

Summary

The main inconvenience with a chipped tooth may be the sharp edge left by the missing part of the tooth. This can cut your lip and tongue and make your life all-around uncomfortable.

And if all you need to do is smooth out the edge of your tooth, that’s a very affordable procedure.