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Going to softball practice without an athletic mouthguard, trying to crack a nutshell with your teeth, clenching your teeth while sleeping, or maybe even hitting your mouth on the steering wheel during a fender bender – there are a lot of ways to suffer a chipped tooth. Can your damaged tooth repair itself? Other parts of your body naturally begin to heal, so why not your tooth, right? Keep reading as your emergency dentist in Brookfield examines this topic.
What Are Risk Factors for Chipped Teeth?
First of all, you are more likely to suffer a chip if your tooth is already in a weakened state. Some things that can affect the integrity of your teeth are:
- Tooth decay and cavities eat away at the enamel. Large fillings also tend to weaken teeth.
- Teeth grinding can wear down enamel.
- Eating a lot of acid-producing foods and beverages, such as fruit juices, coffee, and spicy foods can break down enamel and leave the surface of teeth exposed.
- Acid reflux or heartburn, two digestive conditions, can bring stomach acid up into your mouth where it can damage tooth enamel.
- Eating disorders or excessive alcohol use can cause frequent vomiting which in turn can produce enamel-eating acid.
- Sugar produces bacteria in your mouth that can attack the enamel.
- Tooth enamel wears down over time, so if you’re 50 years or older, your risk of having weakened enamel increases. In one study published in the Journal of Endodontics, nearly two-thirds of those with cracked teeth were over 50.
Are Particular Teeth at Greater Risk?
Any weakened tooth is at risk. But one study shows that the second lower molar – possibly because it takes a fair amount of pressure when chewing – and teeth with fillings are most prone to chipping. Even so, fully healthy teeth are also subject to chipping.
How Should You Respond to a Chipped Tooth?
Okay, so this post buried the lede – while discomforting symptoms may go away after a minor chip, chipped teeth do not heal on their own and require care from a dental professional. The urgency in which treatment is needed varies based on the severity and cause of the chip. For a minor chip, the patient can take care of the tooth at home while they wait for a convenient time to see the dentist, whereas severe chips likely require emergency dental (or medical) care.
The treatment options for a chipped tooth are dependent upon the severity of the chip. When treatment is administered soon after it occurs, dental bonding, a veneer, or a dental crown may be all that is required. For more severe chips, root canal therapy followed by a dental crown may be necessary. In some instances of severe chips that cannot be properly treated (for example, when the tooth is also very loose), the best option may be to extract the tooth and replace it.
No matter the course of action needed to get your smile back on track, your dentist in Brookfield will provide instructions to help ensure a smooth recovery. This may include oral hygiene tips, dietary restrictions, wearing a nightguard or mouthguard to prevent further damage, and follow-up visits.
About the Practice
At Elmbrook Family Dental, we offer appointments in the early mornings and evenings for your convenience. We have seven dentists on staff to perform an array of treatments at our two Brookfield locations. If you ever face a chipped tooth or another dental emergency, we’ll make it a priority to see you as soon as possible. Schedule an appointment on our website, but if it’s an emergency, call (262) 784-7201.