Chipped, cracked or broken teeth are among the most common dental injuries, with summertime serving as a peak season for their occurrence. While not generally considered a dental emergency, if you chip or break a tooth, it should be treated by a dentist as soon as possible. Left untreated, even a minor chip can compromise the tooth enamel, which can spur tooth decay, infection, and lead to further breakage. Over time it can also lead to temperature sensitivity.
The best thing to do is to visit your dentist immediately. Your dentist has numerous options—such as bonding, veneers, onlays, and crowns—for repairing a chipped or broken tooth. See our Emergency Dental page for additional tips on handling oral injuries.
Primary Causes of Chips, Cracks and Breaks in Teeth
Of course, the best course of action with a chipped or otherwise broken tooth is to avoid the injury in the first place. Given that “accidents happen,” this might be easier said than done. Nevertheless, certain activities and risk factors increase your chances of accidentally chipping or breaking a tooth.
Falls are a leading cause of tooth breakage but playing sports without a mouth guard is right up there. Many sports carry the inherent risk of tripping and falling, but also come with the additional risk of collision and/or potential hit to the face by a ball. Nothing protects your teeth from sports injury better than a mouth guard.
Be Careful What You Chew On
Chewing on hard substances is an obvious threat to teeth. Naturally, you shouldn’t chew on non-food items, but crunching down on some food-related things, such as ice, bones, and popcorn kernels could lead to a chip or break. This also means that you shouldn’t use your mouth as a tool. Your mouth and teeth shouldn’t substitute for pliers, bottle openers, scissors or any other torque- or perforating-type tool. Yet dentists have to repair plenty of teeth for just this reason.
Speaking of non-food items, dentists have seen a rise in tooth breakage due to oral jewelry. Those cheek, lip and tongue piercings that have grown popular with younger generations are usually metallic and are often positioned where they can clash with tooth enamel. Not only can these oral piercings cause tooth chips and breaks, but they can also cause other issues and increase the incidence of receding gum lines.
Natural Causes of Tooth Chipping and Breakage
Sometimes tooth chips and breakage is caused in whole or in part by natural reasons. For example, a large, unnoticed cavity weakens the tooth to the point that it might split open or otherwise fracture.
Tooth decay repaired with metal amalgams may make those teeth more susceptible to breakage. This can be due to the size of the filling, but also because some amalgams can weaken teeth over time. Also, as we get older, our front teeth can get small cracks and fractures with use. Lastly, those with uneven bite patterns risk breakage and chipping because some teeth may be subject to much greater force than the others. This includes people who clench and grind and also people with open bites or missing teeth. Most dental professionals recognize and treat uneven bite patterns, but if you think that your bite pattern is misaligned, tell your dentist.
We trust that you will have an accident-free summer, but should you chip or break a tooth, the dental professionals at Naples, Florida-based Gulfside Dental stand ready to assess and repair the damage. Gulfside Dental provides emergency dental service in the southwest Florida area on a first-come basis. If you experience tooth chipping, breakage or any other dental emergency, contact our office today at (239) 774-3017. To learn more about all our dental services visit our our website.