Request an Appointment Call Today (303) 684-9777
Chipped, Cracked, Broken: What’s the Difference and What to do?

Chipped, Cracked, Broken: What’s the Difference and What to do?

Everyone wants a great smile. And, hey, this makes sense! After all, we display our smiles all the time. It’s one of the first things people notice about us when we meet them, and of course we want to be proud of the way it looks and feels. According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, 99.7% of adults in the U.S. say it’s critical for their smiles to be healthy and beautiful.

Unfortunately, it’s tough to feel confident about the state of your smile when you’ve got cracked, chipped, or damaged teeth. While these things may seem like simple cosmetic defects, they can damage self-esteem and self-perception, and many people believe that finding ways to get around them is critical. Fortunately, that’s possible, thanks to modern dentistry.

While a cracked or chipped tooth is a common dental accident, it can have devastating effects on the appearance of the smile. In this post, we’ll discuss the difference between chipped or cracked teeth, and how to handle each until you have a chance to get into your dentist’s office.

Chipped Tooth

Chipped Tooth

While many people believe a chipped tooth will be very painful or traumatic, that’s typically not the case. In fact, it’s possible to chip a tooth and not feel any pain at all. In most cases, people only feel pain if the chip in the tooth is big enough to expose the tooth is sensitive root or inner pulp material. In most cases, these chips begin on the end or the outer edge of a tooth and work their way in toward the center of the tooth.

The way that you address a chipped tooth depends in large part on the size and severity of the chip, as well as what caused it. If the chip is small, your dentist may be able to fill it and polish it, creating the appearance of a natural tooth easily and quickly. This is the ideal scenario. If the chip is too large for this, your dentist may need to add a cap, which will not only restore the function of the tooth but improve its appearance as well.

For very large chips, a root canal may be the only available fix.

Cracked Tooth

Cracked Tooth

Cracked teeth are different than chipped teeth in that they typically begin close to the gums and move out to the enamel, or outer film, of the teeth. When they’re severe, cracks can destroy the entire tooth, all the way into and beyond the root. While it’s possible to chip a tooth without ever feeling any pain, cracked teeth very often hurt. If you’ve noticed pain as you chew on one side of your mouth or another, it’s possible that you’re experiencing a cracked tooth.

Cracks can be complex to repair, so it’s critical to visit your dentist immediately after a crack takes place. If the crack is small, the dentist may be able to fix it by placing a resin into the tooth’s crack line. This will help hold the tooth together, and prevent the crack from getting any larger. If the crack is too big for resin, the dentist may add a tooth splint, which works just like a butterfly bandage: the dentist will choose a neighboring tooth (which is healthy and strong) and bind the damaged tooth to it. This will pull the crack together and begin the healing process.

As is true with a chip, a root canal will be required if the crack is severe enough that it has damaged the pulp of the tooth. The dentist may also consider placing a cap on the tooth.

How to Care for Chipped, Cracked, and Broken Teeth at Home

Although nobody wants to deal with chipped, cracked, or broken teeth, they do happen. Maybe you’re crunching a piece of ice, or some hard candy when you notice something wrong in your mouth. It’s an experience many people have had and know all too well.

Despite the fact that the enamel covering on teeth is the most mineralized and strongest tissue in the body, its strength does have limits. Because of these limits, there are many things that can cause broken teeth, and knowing how to deal with them when they do happen is essential. Here’s a simple breakdown on what to do when you suffer a chipped, cracked, or broken tooth.

Chipped and Broken Teeth

Chipped and broken teeth live in the same boat as far as care goes. If your tooth is broken or chipped, the first thing I wanted to do is see your dentist as quickly as possible. If you wait, the tooth could be damaged further or develop an infection, which could move into the bone of your jaw and cause you to end up in the hospital, or undergoing expensive dental treatment. While you wait to see your dentist, Try the following self-care approaches:

  • Take an OTC pain reliever. If a tooth is painful, take an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or something similar. You can also rinse your mouth with salt water to cut down on swelling and inflammation and reduce the likelihood of infection.
  • Cover sharp edges. If the broken tooth has caused a sharp edge that’s cutting the inside of your mouth, cover it with a piece of dental wax or sugarless chewing gum. This will keep it from tearing up your tongue or the inside of your lip or cheek.
  • Eat soft foods. It’s possible that you Won’t even want to eat with a broken tooth, but if you do, focus on eating soft foods and chewing on the side of your mouth without the broken tooth.

Cracked Teeth

In some ways, caring for a cracked tooth can be even more disconcerting than caring for a chipped or broken tooth. In some cases, a cracked tooth won’t cause any immediate issues. It’s possible to have a very deep crack in a molar or other area of the tooth that just stays there, without getting larger, for an extended time. Molars are specifically vulnerable to cracks because they absorb most of the force associated with chewing.

As is true with chipped and broken teeth, the first thing you want to do when you discover a cracked tooth is to make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner, the better. In the meantime, there are few ways to take care of the tooth in the comfort of your own home. The first is to deal with any pain that might be present.

Do this by taking an over the counter pain reliever to reduce swelling and inflammation. You should also try to avoid chewing on the side of your mouth That has the crack, as biting can open the crack and irritate the soft tissue inside your mouth, which contains nerves and blood vessels.

If the crack is severe and has cut through more than just the enamel on your tooth, you’ll need immediate treatment to prevent deeper fractures or ongoing infection. In these cases, a dentist may recommend a root canal or a crown.

In some cases, depending on the location and severity of the crack, the doctor may be able to use filling material to repair the crack and stop it from getting worse. While these treatments are intense, they can help save your teeth in the event of a fracture. One final option is to have the entire tooth removed. This is only done when the tooth can’t be saved because the root of the tooth has been damaged.

Don’t Panic – Call Your Dentist

There’s no question about it: Few things are more alarming than discovering a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth. If this happens to you, be sure to call your dentist immediately. The dentist is your first stop when it comes to dealing with these dental issues, and will be able to help you devise a plan to keep your mouth healthy and happy for years to come, without suffering any negative effects of this unfortunate incident.

 

Are you dealing with a dental accident? Contact our team today for an emergency appointment, or some information on how to keep your teeth healthy moving forward