By Natasha Gayle - Updated October 23, 2020
Chipped teeth are a common problem for Americans. Many of the foods that we eat contain solid ingredients, such as seeds, nuts and occasionally bones, which can be very adept at chipping and breaking teeth. Plus the occasional fall or hit in the mouth can leave lasting damage, especially if the tooth enamel has been weakened over time by tooth decay. How can you get affordable dental enamel repair once your enamel chips, cracks or breaks? While every oral situation may be different, here are 4 common fixes for chipped, cracked or broken teeth.
Occasionally, a chip in your enamel will be small enough to be unnoticeable to the eye. A chip or "craze line" are mild cracks in your outer enamel. However, even a small chip can eventually lead to a sharp point on your tooth – a point definitely noticeable to your tongue! In this situation, a dentist can often file and polish slightly to knock off the sharp edge. This filing process is the most affordable dental option for chipped teeth – if your chip is this small, then there may be no other work needed.
Sometimes a crack can go down to the nerve and the tooth may deceptively appear intact for the time being. Your dentist may give your tooth a filling(s) and a grounding to stabilize it. Resin-based composite is the name of the white material commonly used in fillings. If your missing chip is large enough to be seen but does not reach the tooth's roots, a dentist can often rebuild your tooth using a resin composite. The composite can be shaded to match the regular color of your enamel, to fit in with the rest of your teeth. This process is often referred to as “bonding,” an affordable dental option compared to the more extensive work required to fix severe chips.
Broken cusps are breaks in the pointed chewing surfaces of your teeth. Often, these do not require treatment at all. But if a larger portion of your tooth has been compromised, a dentist may need to cap the tooth with a crown – a hard, protective cover which fits over the top of your broken tooth. In order for a dentist to place a crown, you must have enough of the original tooth remaining for the crown to attach to. The crown will keep your enamel from chipping further, and will protect the remaining broken part.
If you have a good deal of pain and bleeding, it’s a good sign that you have a severe fracture and possibly an exposed nerve. Your dentist will treat this with a root canal, topped off with a crown or filling.
A vertical fracture is when your tooth splits vertically into two pieces, causing damage to the root. Your back molars have more than one root, so if the break occurs in one of these teeth, your dentist may be able to crown it after performing a root canal.
In some cases, your tooth may break off to the point that a composite or a crown cannot be used. If you have a severely broken or cracked tooth, your dentist may have to pull your tooth, then add a replacement tooth in its place. Or a root to surface fracture may occur, where the break starts in the root and works its way up. This fracture can easily become infected and frequently results in an extraction. Replacement teeth can be added in the form of a partial denture, a permanent bridge, or individual implants. Your most affordable dental option is always to save your original tooth, if possible – pulling and replacing a tooth should be your last resort. Still, while implants can be very expensive, an affordable dental plan or insurance may be able to cut the cost.
You should head to the dentist if you notice twinges of pain when consuming food and drinks that are very hot or very cold, or if you have severe, lingering pain in the tooth, a potential sign of nerve damage.
Your dentist can determine if a cavity has caused or exacerbated the break, and treat the decay before it spreads further. He or she can also diagnose any damage to the nerve inside your tooth, damage that will require more severe treatment and cause you great pain if ignored.
There are a number of different ways a dentist can fix or replace a broken tooth. If you currently have a chipped tooth, you should plan a visit to a certified dentist to have it checked out. Since every chip will be different, your dentist will be able to tell you more specifically what may be done to fix your broken tooth and what your next steps should be.
Need to see a dentist but don’t have an affordable option? Learn more about how you can save today - no waiting - on exams, fillings, crowns and more with a dental savings plan .