Even though our teeth can chew through pretty much any food without a problem, they are still capable of cracking, breaking or chipping. As a result, discomfort can range from an odd feeling of the tooth not being whole to excruciating pain. Needless to say, a chipped tooth can be anything from an immediate dental emergency to a visit to the dentist when availability allows. Of course, knowing what to do with a chipped tooth can help in the event that the unfortunate incident happens, so let’s take a closer look at the necessary (and essential) steps you need to take.
Step 1 – Self-assessment of the damage caused
Okay, so you don’t need to be a dentist to assess how bad your chipped tooth is. If you have a sudden burst of excruciating pain, you know it’s likely to be a bad fracture, crack or chip. In this case, this is a dental emergency, and you should contact your emergency dentist immediately.
Alternatively, if you have no current discomfort but suspect that the tooth feels rough when you run your tongue over it, then calling an emergency dentist for a late-night dental emergency is probably not a good idea. Instead, try to avoid chewing or biting on the tooth where possible and contact your dentist first thing in the morning. They may still consider it a dental emergency and try to fit you in on a same-day appointment, but the earlier you address the situation, the lesser chance you have of causing further damage.
Step 2 – Take action
In reality, understanding what to do with a chipped tooth is about taking action. Whether that’s quickly assessing the damage and taking dental emergency action or instigating precautionary tactics until you can see your dentist, there are things you can do to help. Remember, the longer you ignore a cracked, broken or chipped tooth, the more problematic the situation (and the tooth) will become. Therefore, if you have a moderately chipped tooth, try using warm water and salt solution to flush out the inside of your mouth. Then if necessary, apply a cold compress to the outside of the cheek, nearest the tooth, for 10 minutes. This should reduce any pain and ease any swelling. You may also want to accompany this with an over-the-counter pain-killer or anti-inflammatory.
Another tip is to apply clove oil directly onto the chipped tooth. Only do this if the tooth is slightly chipped or cracked. A severe tooth crack won’t thank you for dousing it in clove oil, as the tooth might be exceptionally sensitive. That said, Eugenol contained in clove oil acts as an antiseptic and can help to numb the area.
If your chipped tooth is particularly sharp, then another course of action is to visit your local pharmacist and ask for dental wax. Dental wax is solid at room temperature but will soften from the warmth of your hands. It will stick to sharp surfaces in your mouth, primarily the chipped tooth, thus softening the edges. It’s transparent and designed to protect the lips, cheeks and tongue, thus avoiding any lacerations while you await your chipped tooth repair.
Again, these are actions you can take at home to alleviate discomfort while waiting for your dental emergency appointment.
Step 3 – Seek out treatment
Irrespective of how minor your chipped tooth problem is, you should always follow it up with a visit to the dentist. While it may not be a dental emergency, there are several procedures a dentist or emergency dentist can undertake to prevent further problems.
For example, if it’s a small chip, your dentist may initiate cosmetic contouring to smooth out the jagged edge. Alternatively, they may suggest cosmetic dental bonding to fill in the chip. Or, in cases where a dental filling cannot be used, they may recommend an inlay, onlay, or dental crown.
Alternatively, if a cracked or chipped tooth goes beyond the surface, it will require more attention. In some cases, cracks or chips can reach the inner tooth pulp. In this case, you’ll know it’s a dental emergency because you’ll feel some form of discomfort or sensitivity. In some cases, this can be extreme. Often the best course of action in these instances is for your emergency dentist to perform a root canal. Once root canal therapy has been carried out, a dental crown is usually attached to provide long-term protection for the tooth.
So, there you have it, what to do with a chipped tooth and the essential steps you need to take. Remember, doing nothing isn’t an option, as it will only come back to bite you (excuse the pun) in months or years ahead. Instead, follow these steps, and you should be able to navigate a chipped tooth problem without a hitch.
Here at Synergy Dental Group, we set aside time in our busy schedules to see emergency or urgent cases. So, if you need to see an emergency dentist for a badly chipped tooth, call our experienced team, and we’ll put it right. Get in touch on (03) 7003 2185 or book an appointment online.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
NCBI – Biological properties And Prospects For The Application Of Eugenol
Colgate.com – What is Dental Wax?