What To Do When You Chip A Tooth

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It is common and has probably happened at least once in your lifetime. A chipped tooth is unpleasant for you and annoying to deal with. Sure, it may seem like no big deal to have a chipped tooth but it can be irritating. Teeth are very strong and can withstand the weight of many things. However, there are times that a simple accident can cause a tooth to chip. A chipped tooth is a small fracture of the outside of the tooth. There are five different types of chipped teeth, one of which a dentist can identify you have. The first is tiny cracks on the outside of the tooth that are not painful. The second kind is when a small piece of the tooth breaks off. The third type is a crack/breakage of a tooth that extends to the root from the surface. The fourth kind of cracked tooth is a split tooth. The fifth type of cracked tooth is a vertical root crack that usually goes undetected until an infection occurs. The important thing to remember about a chipped tooth is to ask for proper help and do not fix it yourself.  


A chipped tooth can be visible if it is front and center. However, if one of the lower back teeth becomes chipped it might be difficult to notice. Some of the signs of a chipped tooth may include: 

  • Irritation when chewing  
  • Jagged edge or surface when touching tooth 
  • Pain when biting down 


Trauma injury or an accident are the two leading causes of a chipped tooth. Cavities can cause the enamel to become infected and increase tooth decay. Teeth are at risk of chipping if any of the following occur:  

  • Eating ice or hard candy 
  • Biting on hard objects 
  • Falling down 
  • Pierced tongue or cheek 
  • Car accidents 
  • Using teeth as a bottle opener 
  • Playing sports, such as football, soccer, hockey 
  • Teeth grinding  
  • Constantly drinking/eating acidic foods 
  • Poor oral hygiene  
  • Digestive problems such as acid reflux 


Depending on the type of chipped tooth on has, the options for treatment will vary. It is obvious that no medical emergency is required if a chipped tooth does not cause infection, extreme pain and/or bleeding. A chipped tooth, regardless of how minor, should be fixed to avoid complications in the future. Some people are lucky enough to catch a piece of their chipped tooth. If this is the case, a dentist can reattach the tooth to its missing partner. Treating a chipped tooth usually requires one of the following procedures.  

What To Do 

The first thing to do when you have suffered a chipped tooth is to rinse your mouth. Rinsing with warm salt water can help remove dirty particles from the mouth. Pain medication such as Tylenol, can help reduce the swelling and pain. Contact a dentist as soon as possible to get the situation evaluated. Once a dentist evaluates the situation, they will give you options on how to treat the problem. Some of the options may include: 

  • Filling or Bonding: A minor cracked tooth can be repaired by bonding. If a larger piece of the tooth has been chipped off, a dentist may need to use a filling (similar to filling for a cavity). 
  • Root Canal: If a tooth is cracked enough that it extends to the root or pulp, a root canal is needed. Adding a crown after the root canal will be a decision made by the dentist.  
  • Dental Veneers: If the chipped tooth is visibly damaged, then a more attractive fix to this problem is with veneers. 
  • Onlays or Crowns: Depending on the extent of the chipped tooth, a dentist may suggest one of these two options. An onlay is only applied to the surface of the molar while a crown is applied to the whole tooth.  

Most of the options suggested to fix a chipped tooth requires local anesthesia.  


Preventing a chipped tooth is important for the overall health of your teeth. It is important that one knows how to keep their teeth clean and in pristine shape. Below are a few things to keep in mind in order to prevent a chipped tooth.  

  • Avoid chewing on non-edible items 
  • Do not use your teeth are scissors or a knife 
  • Avoid teeth grinding 
  • Make regular visits to the dentist 
  • Practice proper oral hygiene 
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports