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28 June 2024

Chipped Your Tooth? Options For What Can Be Done


One of the most common dental problems that patients contact us for is chipped tooth repair.  While tooth enamel is the hardest mineral in the body, it does have its limits. Biting down on something hard such as ice or hard-boiled sweets or receiving a blow to the face through an accident or fall, can cause the tooth to chip, fracture, or break, especially if the tooth already suffers from any degree of decay. With this in mind, let’s take a closer look at what options are available to deal with the problem and what can be done to restore your smile.

Often the type of treatment you need depends on the severity of the damage. For example, a small hairline fracture may easily be treated in one quick visit, whereas a badly damaged tooth may need extensive restoration.

Alternatively, if the tooth is damaged beyond repair, it may need removing altogether and replaced with dental implants. Taking into consideration the different degrees of damage, let’s take a closer look at the variety of tooth repair options available.

Dental bonding

If you’ve experienced a hairline tooth fracture or have chipped a small part of the tooth then often the easiest and most effective option is dental bonding. This is a simple procedure that can be carried out in one session. It involves first applying an etching gel which roughens up the surface of the tooth.

Next, an adhesive is applied, followed by a layer of tooth-coloured resin that has been mixed and colour-matched to your existing teeth. The resin is then hardened using a curing light, after which it’s shaped and polished to give the appearance of a natural tooth. In addition to restoring tooth form, the hardened resin also acts as a barrier to protect the damaged tooth.

Dental veneers

Often if the front of the tooth has suffered an unsightly crack or chip, then a dental veneer might well be the answer to restoring your smile. This is a thin shell-like porcelain or resin composite cover which sits over the outer surface of the tooth totally covering the crack or chip while protecting the tooth enamel beneath it; similar to how a false nail would cover a finger nail.

So why dental porcelain?

There are several reasons to use dental porcelain. Firstly it’s a hard substance which is able to withstand normal bite pressure. Secondly, it can be coloured to the same shade as your remaining teeth for a natural appearance; and finally, it’s resistant to staining from beverages such as tea, coffee, and red wine. This is why it’s often used as the material of choice for dental crowns which are then attached to dental implants. dentists do use other materials but dental porcelain is often the preferred choice.

So how does the process work?

The damaged tooth first has to be prepared. To do this the dentist should remove somewhere between 0.3 and 1.2 mm of tooth enamel. This is so that when the veneer is fitted it sits flush with the tooth to give a seamless appearance. Before fitting a veneer the surface is etched, an adhesive applied, and the veneer positioned firmly into place. A curing light activates the chemicals which bond the veneer to the surface of the tooth. Finally, it’s shaped and polished to complete a flawless look.

The trial smile

Because chipped tooth repair using dental veneers is a non-reversible treatment, temporary veneers are fitted first of all. This is to see if they remain a comfortable fit. During the ‘trial smile’ period patients are reminded to road test them in terms of aesthetics and bite. If they’re not right in any way then your dentist will make the necessary adjustments. Once both you and your dentist are happy then the permanent veneers are made and fitted. The whole process from start to finish can take anywhere between 4 weeks and 4 months to complete depending upon the speed of comfort and fit.

Dental crown

Otherwise known as a dental cap, a crown is a good way of covering a large area of tooth that has broken off. The dentist may have to grind or file part of the remaining tooth down to accommodate the cap, but the idea is that unlike a veneer or dental bonding, a dental crown covers the whole tooth, providing both aesthetic appearance and protection. Crowns can be made from a wide variety of materials including metal, porcelain fused to metal (PFM), ceramic, and all resin. Depending upon the type of crown you opt for, the benefits are different. For example, all metal crowns are the strongest but the most obvious in terms of appearance, while all ceramic or porcelain give the most natural look.

Chipped tooth repair with a crown

A crown is usually fitted in two visits. During the first visit, X-rays are taken to ensure that the root of the tooth and the surrounding bone remains intact. If no further problems are detected, then an anaesthetic is given to allow the dentist to shape the remaining tooth to make room for the crown. Next, an impression is taken using a putty-like substance. This is to ensure a perfect bite once the new crown is fitted. This impression is sent off to the lab so that your custom crown be made and in the meantime, a temporary crown is fitted. This is normally made from either acrylic or a thinner metal.

After 2-3 weeks your permanent crown should be ready. In this second visit, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and ensure a good fit of your permanent one before cementing it firmly into place.

Root Canal Therapy

Sometimes a tooth chip or break is bad enough to expose the inner tooth pulp. Bacteria from the mouth can enter the tooth pulp (the inner workings of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are stored) and it can become infected. If you feel tooth pain, or your tooth is extremely sensitive to heat/cold, or you suffer from unexplained bad breath, root canal therapy might be the best treatment. It involves removing all the inner pulp from the tooth, cleaning out the chamber, and refilling it with a silicone seal. In most cases, a dental crown is then fitted to protect the tooth further.

As you can see, there are a wide variety of ways to facilitate a chipped tooth repair, but it does depend on the extent of the damage as to what method is used. Whether that treatment is as simple as dental bonding, or something more complex like an extraction followed by dental implants. Don’t suffer with a cracked or chipped tooth, instead, contact us on 0161 486 0743 and book an appointment today.

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