I Chipped My Tooth. Now What?


No one ever expects to chip a tooth. It can happen to anyone at any time. You may chip or break a tooth while you’re eating, playing sports, or biting your nails. Sometimes you may not even notice until much later, when your tongue happens upon a jagged tooth edge that wasn’t there before. Whether you notice a chipped tooth the moment it happens or not, it’s important to take action as soon as you can. Ignoring a chipped, broken, or cracked tooth could lead to problems down the road.

The sooner you get to the dentist to fix your tooth, the better.  In the meantime, here are some steps you can take to help minimize the risk of further damage and infection.

  • Rinse your mouth with salt water. The salt makes it more difficult for bacteria to breed in the newly exposed parts of your chipped or broken tooth.
  • Take an over-the-counter pain medication if necessary. If the crack or chip results in air exposure for nerve endings in the dentin, the pain medication can help ease your discomfort while you wait to see the dentist.
  • Use wax or sugarless chewing gum to cover the jagged edge. This will protect your tongue and your cheek from the sharp edges of the broken tooth.
  • Get to the dentist as soon as you can. The fix may be a simple one, but even if it requires a more complex procedure, ignoring the chipped or broken tooth could result in pain, infection, and other unwanted complications.

How we can help

Some of the procedures we may use at Soft Touch Dental in San Diego to fix your chipped or broken tooth include:

Dental filling or bonding

If you chip just a small piece of enamel from your tooth, we can repair it with either a dental filling or composite bonding (a good choice for front teeth, because it allows us to match the color of your other teeth for a good-as-new fix).

Dental veneers

Another great option for front teeth, veneers are custom-made, natural looking laminates that can completely transform the appearance of a single tooth or multiple teeth. We can use veneers to cover and fix chipped teeth, stained teeth, and poorly shaped or worn-out teeth. With good care, they can last as long as 30 years (three times as long as bonding). They’re not, however, a good option for people who grind their teeth.

Dental crown

When a larger piece of a tooth breaks off, it may require more than dental filling or bonding to fix it. Sometimes, a dental crown is a better option. For this procedure, we’ll file away part of the remaining tooth and then fit a crown (a cap) over it. This crown will be tooth-shaped and made from tooth-colored porcelain, and no one but you (and us) will know it’s not an actual tooth.  A crown allows you to chew without pain or pressure on the broken tooth and provides an improved appearance as well as protection for your remaining tooth.

Root canal therapy

If a crack in your tooth extends down into the pulp, you may need a root canal. This involves removing the nerve from inside the tooth, but leaving the structure. After we seal the tooth to prevent decay, we may place a crown over the remaining tooth structure. This procedure sounds scarier than it actually is.  At Soft Touch Dental, we’re gentle and really good at what we do. You’ll be in and out of our office before you know it, and you’ll barely feel a thing.

But before you go about your business as usual…

Try to follow these tips for lowering your risk of chipping or breaking a tooth.

  • Refrain from chewing pens or biting your nails
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports
  • Wear a night guard to protect your teeth from grinding
  • Never use your teeth to open packets or bottles
  • Avoid chewing ice, hard candy, and popcorn kernels
  • Brush and floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly to minimize the risk of tooth decay

We’re here for you

At Soft Touch Dental, we know how important your smile is, and we’re here to help you take care of it. Along with our thorough dental exams and cleanings, we also offer sedation dentistry, dental implants, wisdom teeth removal, teeth whitening, dentures, orthodontics, and much more.

Give us a call or stop by our office on Clairemont Mesa Boulevard to schedule your next appointment today.