Even the tiniest of chips in your teeth can lead to problems – act quickly!
Some people have a habit of putting off seeing a dentist where a ‘minor’ issue is present. Whilst some of this may be due to dental anxiety, or an appointment not being very far away anyway; leaving a problem is likely to lead to it becoming worse, if not treated. For this reason, we always encourage our Clapham patients to at least contact us for further advice if they notice anything wrong.
Whilst some patients will put up with a relatively mild toothache for some time before contacting us, a delay is even more likely where any damage seems almost irrelevant or unnoticeable. A case in point is where a tiny piece of tooth has broken away.
Tiny chips still matter
Whilst a larger piece of a tooth breaking away may be cause to ring the dentist for an appointment, the tiniest of chips may be almost invisible and very likely not cause any immediate discomfort. There are a number of reasons though, why you should have this looked at, as soon as possible.
Damaged enamel and tooth decay
Where a tooth has chipped, however small, it is possible that a small area of the dentin layer below it has become exposed. This softer, more porous, material can become affected by bacteria entering. This may eventually lead to tooth decay becoming a problem, and a filling is likely to be needed. Root canal infections may also start in this way.
Soft tissue discomfort
Even the tiniest of chips can create a razor sharp edge to the tooth and this can easily cause some of the adjacent soft tissue to bleed as it cuts into it. Any wound in the mouth needs to be kept clean to prevent infections. Even if you manage to do this though, any cut or graze is likely to be noticeable when you eat or drink certain foods and however tiny the cut, the discomfort can be significant.
How we treat a chipped tooth
Before we decide on the course of action, we obviously need to inspect the tooth, both to assess the extent of the damage, and also to check that no decay is already present. If it is, a filling will be necessary before we perform any further restorative treatment. The likelihood is that any decay present would be small, providing you had not left it for too long, and a small white dental filling could then be used to fill the cavity as well as restore the shape of the tooth.
If no decay is present, there are a number of treatment options available at the Confidental Clinic. The most straightforward of these is cosmetic bonding. This requires no invasive treatment and simply involves shaping some composite material to restore the shape of the affected tooth. This is not always the strongest option available though, and, being porous, this material can darken over time. Even so, it can be very useful in many cases.
A longer term restoration could include the use of porcelain veneers to restore the tooth. These would probably be more appropriate where the chip is more significant or if there were a number of them on the same tooth surface. This is a more invasive treatment, but one that produces excellent results and can last for ten years or more if looked after properly.
Leave it to the professionals
Although relatively rare, we have heard tales of some people attempting to smooth off any rough tooth edges themselves, using a nail file. This might seem a simple task; but the reality is that it isn’t. You will very likely cause further damage and exaggerate the problem. So please call us if the chipped tooth is becoming a problem and avoid the DIY route at all cost!
However small a chip or crack in the tooth may be, there are a number of things that you should do:
- Make sure to keep your teeth clean to minimise the risk of any infection
- Call our Clapham dental team to have it examined as soon as possible
- Try to limit the amount of chewing needed until such time that it can be treated. Softer foods are advisable, particularly if the crack or chip is significant
- If you are in any discomfort with the tooth, do let us know that and also consider your usual pain killing medication if necessary
A minor chipped tooth may seem almost irrelevant when it first occurs, but, left to its own accord, further breakage or infections are likely. Please call the Confidental Clinic in Clapham on 020 7801 9060 if this happens to you. Don’t put it off .. you may regret it!