Unfortunately it is all too easy to chip or crack a tooth, but unless it looks particularly unsightly or is highly visible, then it might not seem worth mending. Even a small chip in a tooth could ultimately affect the health of that tooth.
This is because teeth are normally protected by an outer layer of hard tooth enamel that prevents bacteria from getting inside the tooth and gradually destroying the softer layer of dentin that is just underneath the tooth enamel.
A small chip or crack in the enamel will enable these bacteria to easily get into your tooth and you could end up losing a substantial part of the overall tooth structure. What’s even worse is that a small chip could end up hiding a much bigger cavity underneath your tooth enamel that may eventually reach the central part of your tooth that contains all the nerves. By this stage it will be necessary to carry out root canal therapy to save the tooth. It is much easier to simply get the tooth mended as soon as you can as it will be much cheaper in the longer term.
If you have damaged a tooth, it’s worth making an appointment to see Dr. Larry Leslie here at Tsawwassen Place Dental so the damage can be fully assessed. The treatment will depend on the amount of structure missing from the tooth as a small chip can often be mended by bonding the tooth, but if the damage is more substantial it might be necessary to restore the tooth with a veneer or crown.
Teeth that become chipped are often right in front of the mouth and dental bonding can be an easy and effective solution. This process uses tooth coloured composite resin, which is the same material used for tooth coloured fillings. It is an extremely good material that bonds very strongly to the natural tooth structure and modern composite resins come in a huge range of colours. A tooth can be bonded in just one appointment and the restoration should last for several years.
Larger chips in front teeth can sometimes be mended with a porcelain veneer which is a bit like a false fingernail for a tooth, consisting of a very thin porcelain shell that fits exactly over the front surface of the tooth and which can restore the biting or incisal edge. Porcelain veneers have to be custom-made in a dental laboratory, so this procedure does take a bit longer to complete and will need a couple of appointments. Once the veneer has been made, it is bonded onto the tooth and porcelain veneers can last up to 10 years or even longer depending on their care.
Crowns provide excellent protection for teeth that are badly damaged and which have already lost a substantial part of their structure. A crown or cap covers up the entire tooth and is designed to restore strength and structure so you will be able to eat and smile normally. Crowns can be made from a huge range of materials that include gold crowns for back teeth, porcelain fused to metal crowns and all ceramic crowns that are excellent for restoring front teeth as they provide the very highest level of aesthetics.
* Source: Centers for Disease Control