A chipped tooth makes an impression — but not necessarily a good one!
Case in point: Jim Carrey’s dopey character Lloyd Christmas in the comic films “Dumb and Dumber” and its sequel. Lloyd’s chipped front tooth was a deliberate choice by the actor to make his character appear more “deranged” every time he opened his mouth.
Treatment for Aesthetics & Health
Fortunately, it’s easy to repair this type of dental damage. Your dentist has several options at his or her disposal depending on the nature of the chip and whether you’ve been able to locate and save the otherwise undamaged missing piece.
It’s important for your oral health as well as your appearance to schedule a dental appointment for evaluation and treatment of chipped tooth. If dental pulp at the center of the tooth has been exposed, your tooth could become hypersensitive to temperature and pressure, causing recurring discomfort. The pulp could also become infected, resulting in a need for root canal treatment.
Bonding — Rejoin/Re-create Missing Piece
Dental cosmetic bonding is the quickest and lowest-cost option to repair a chip. (That’s how Jim Carey had his chipped tooth fixed in childhood; he had his dentist temporarily “unbond” it for the movie!) Bonding involves application of a composite filling material that your dentist will color and shape to match the original tooth. Little to no removal of existing tooth surface is needed.
If you have preserved the chipped-off portion of tooth and it is otherwise undamaged, your dentist can use bonding to seamlessly reattach it. Otherwise, depending on the extent of tooth loss, bonding material can be used to replace the lost portion.
Apply a Veneer — Hide the Chip
A dental veneer can be used to hide smaller areas of missing tooth. This is a thin, custom-made shell placed on the front of the tooth to give it a new façade. Some removal of existing tooth surface may be necessary to fit a veneer so it is flush with the surfaces of surrounding intact teeth.
Get a Crown — Cover Everything
A crown may be the best choice if a relatively large portion of the tooth is missing. It fully encases the visible portion of the remaining tooth (also known as the crown) above the gum line and is shaped and sized to match the original. It can be made of all ceramic (optimal for highly visible areas) or porcelain fused to metal crowns. In both cases, the material will be colored to match your other teeth. Some of the existing tooth surface will be removed to allow the crown to fit over it.
Accidents happen, but there are steps you can take to substantially reduce the risk of ever experiencing a chipped tooth — for example, wear a dental bite guard while playing sports, don’t grind or clench your teeth, don’t crunch on ice chips or hard candies, and don’t use your teeth as a tool for opening things!