One minute you’re watching a great romantic movie with your partner, enjoying a bowl of your favorite popcorn, and the next thing you know you’ve bitten down on a stray kernel and chipped one of your teeth. It’s something that happens to a lot of people at some point in their lives. But if it happens to you, there’s no need to panic. With a quick trip to your dentist, a chipped tooth is easily fixable. There are also a number of things you can do to prevent chipping a tooth in the first place. Read on for some tips on how to treat, or even prevent, a chipped tooth.
Preventing a Chipped Tooth
Luckily, our teeth are pretty tough. According to some sources, the enamel on our teeth is harder than steel. But over time, wear and tear can weaken tooth enamel and make teeth more susceptible to chipping or breaking. Some of the ways you might be putting undue stress on your teeth include grinding your teeth at night while you sleep, and eating a lot of foods that are damaging to your teeth or are difficult to bite and chew, like certain nuts and hard candies.
One of the best ways to protect your teeth from chipping is to eat a healthy diet that’s low in sugary, chewy and acidic foods that can break down tooth enamel. For optimal tooth health, dentists recommend a diet that includes a lot of fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, celery and apples, and high-calcium dairy products like cheese and yogurt. Foods to avoid or cut back on include carbonated sodas, sour candies, breads and pastries, alcoholic beverages, ice cubes, and dried fruits.
Some other ways you can protect your teeth from breaking include wearing a mouth guard when you play sports or, if you tend to grind your teeth at night, when you’re sleeping. Having your teeth cleaned by a dentist at least every six months is also an important part of protecting your teeth for the long term. Regular cleanings can help keep your teeth strong and can detect problems with your teeth early, before a chip or breakage occurs.
Treating a Chipped Tooth
If you do happen to chip one of your teeth, don’t worry. Your dentist can treat a chipped tooth quickly and easily. When you first chip a tooth, call your dentist right away, even if the accident occurred over the weekend. Most dental offices, like this Babylon Dentist, have an answering service that can get in touch with dentists on their days off in the event of an emergency. Depending on the severity of damage to your tooth, it might be a good idea to avoid eating while you are waiting to see your dentist. If you must eat, try to stick to foods that are soft or don’t need to be chewed like soups and smoothies. If your chipped tooth is causing you pain, it’s OK to take an over the counter pain medication like Advil or Tylenol.
Once you get to the dentist, he or she will look at your chipped tooth and evaluate the damage. In many cases, he or she will repair the tooth with a filling or bonding, similar to the way a tooth is treated when you have a cavity filled. In more serious cases, though — especially if the broken tooth is decayed — root canal surgery might need to be conducted and a dental cap or crown might need to be applied.
Dental caps and crowns are usually made of porcelain, resin or ceramic and are made to match the rest of your teeth. They can be an attractive, permanent solution to broken or chipped teeth.
Don’t Attempt to Treat a Chipped Tooth on Your Own
The most important thing to remember when you chip a tooth is to see your dentist as soon as possible. Even if the damage doesn’t seem to be severe, or isn’t causing you pain, the chipped area may be severely weakened and subject to chipping even more. A tooth with chipped enamel is also more susceptible to tooth decay than an undamaged tooth. Without immediate treatment, a chipped tooth that might have been easily fixed at the time it was damaged could require much more extensive repair, costing you a lot more down time and money.
People with healthy teeth can actually lower their risk of chronic illnesses like type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Taking good care of your teeth with proper preventative care and by having chips and breakages taken care of by your dentist right away can help your teeth last a lifetime.