Chipped teeth are a frustrating problem that leave us with pointed jagged teeth, large gaps where you can see the gums, or generally unstraight and unpleasant looking gnashers. The real irritation really comes from the fact that our teeth are really perfectly healthy, but have just been chipped while chewing something too tough, or from a simple accident. This then adds insult to injury as there is no real reason for your teeth to be looking unhealthy – particularly if you have otherwise made efforts to ensure that you brush regularly and go to the dentist.
For this reason you might also decide you’d rather avoid a lengthy trip to the dentist for what is essentially just a cosmetic slight. However it is important to get it repaired as it can cause other problems other than just the aesthetic – such as difficulty eating certain foods, and the tendency for food items to get wedged in the gap and cause damage to your gums. Over time it is also likely to break further unless seen to. In some worse cases it is also possible for the nerves in the tooth to become exposed and these can then be extremely sensitive to hot and cold temperatures as well as sugar in your diet.
Fixing Your Chipped Tooth
In 90% of cases you should go to the dentist and in the long run this will save you money, effort and time. However in some cases you might be able to address the problem – at least temporarily on your own.
• Your first port of call is to address the wound. You’re likely to have experienced trauma such as a blow to the face if you have chipped your tooth. This happens to many children when they fall off of bicycles or down the stairs. Get a cold compress to help bring down any swelling and use pain killers such as paracetamol. While the area of the mouth is painful, avoid chewing on that side and use soft foods that are a neutral temperature and low in sugar (plain yoghurt, soft bread, soup etc).
• If you do have a problem with exposed nerves then it is important to cover this up. It is possible to buy temporary dental cement from online retailers and these will cover up the exposed nerves so that you can chew hot or cold foods again. As the name suggests, this is only a temporary measure and will not last indefinitely so be sure to see a dentist soon after.
• If the chipped tooth is small and just a corner – such as one corner of a large front tooth – then the problem is likely to be purely cosmetic. In this case you may be able to do something to improve the look of your tooth by filing it down. Purchase a plain ’emery board’ and file down the jagged edge to a curve (or get a friend or relative to do it). This will then prevent further damage that might have occurred as a result of a jagged edge which would be more brittle and prone to catching, as well as improving the aesthetics of the tooth by making it appear smooth and more ‘blended’ in. Finally this will also prevent the tooth from catching on your lip or tongue and causing bleeding.
• If the problem is still visible after smoothing down the edge then you may need to do more filing. One option is to file down the whole bottom of the tooth to make it flat and thus remove any unsightly corners. This might however mean that you also need to file down the same tooth on the opposite side in order to create symmetry. Be very careful when doing this not to end up removing too much of your teeth and be happy with them looking mostly even without continually filing them down to match. Alternatively you might want to just file the corner on the opposite tooth, or the other corner of the same tooth.
Note: While this article informs you how to address certain aspects of a chipped tooth on your own, it is still always advisable that you visit a dentist who will have more experience and better tools and who can prevent further damage from occurring. Even something as simple as filing can be highly unpleasant and very difficult if you do not know what you are doing so be sure to seek professional help where possible.