Whether you chipped a tooth while eating or when you were playing sports, the result is the same: a piece of your enamel has broken off of your tooth. While small chips may not pose a serious threat, large chips can leave you in pain and increase your risk of infection.
Here at Smiles of Atlanta in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Ed Trizzino reserves appointments each day for dental emergencies, including chipped teeth.
If you chip a tooth and aren’t sure whether it’s an emergency, it’s better to play it safe and give us a call. Our team can provide guidance based on your specific situation.
In the meantime, here are some questions to help you determine if you’re dealing with a dental emergency.
How to evaluate a chipped tooth
Chipping a tooth can require urgent dental care, but some chips are a little more serious than others. Here’s what you can do to help determine the severity of yours.
Assess the size chip
Take a close look at the chipped tooth. Is it a minor cosmetic issue, or does it involve a significant portion of the tooth? The larger the chip, the more likely you’re dealing with a dental emergency.
That’s because a large chip — one that exposes the dental pulp — can increase the chance that bacteria enter into your tooth. Large chips and fractures can also cause intense pain, especially if your nerves are affected.
If the chipped fragment is large, you can try to salvage it. Keep the piece of tooth moist, either in the side of your cheek, in milk, or in a tooth-preserving first aid solution. Don’t store your tooth in water, though.
If the chip is tiny, it may not be a true dental emergency, but it’s still worth repairing.
Assess the edges of the chip
Some chipped teeth can leave behind sharp or jagged pieces. These sharp edges could lead to lip or tongue cuts. If your tooth has a sharp or jagged edge, it requires immediate dental care.
While you wait for an appointment, try to cover the edge to protect yourself from cuts. Cover the chipped edge with sugarless gum or orthodontic wax.
Check for bleeding and facial swelling
Is there any bleeding or noticeable swelling around the chipped tooth or the surrounding gums? Excessive bleeding or swelling could be signs of a more urgent situation requiring immediate dental care. Depending on the accident, you may have injured more than one tooth.
Check for signs of instability and functionality
Evaluate whether the chipped tooth affects your ability to bite, chew, or speak normally. Functional issues may require prompt attention to prevent further complications. If your tooth is wiggly, call Dr. Trizzino right away. Splinting may help secure your tooth and prevent tooth loss.
Assess the aesthetic condition of your tooth
While aesthetics might not be your primary concern in an emergency, consider whether the chipped tooth is causing significant cosmetic issues. This may influence your decision to seek immediate dental care.
As a family and cosmetic dentist, Dr. Trizzino knows firsthand the importance of a healthy — and beautiful — smile. Dental bonding can restore the appearance of your tooth and protect it against harmful bacteria entering through the crack.
What should I do if I chip a tooth?
If you chip your tooth, it’s better to err on the side of caution and call Dr. Trizzino. While you wait, you might consider:
- Swishing salt water to clean your mouth and remove any blood
- Applying a cold compress to address any swelling
- Keeping your tooth pieces moist (if they’re large)
- Covering any jagged edges to prevent lacerations
Most importantly, remain calm! There are many options to restore your tooth. From dental bonding to veneers, rest easy knowing that Dr. Trizzino can fix your chipped tooth.
You can reach our Atlanta, Georgia, office today at 770-407-8459. For less urgent matters, you can book your next appointment online.