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Simi Valley, CA 93065
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Chips Happen
By Dr. Ellison
June 20, 2016
Category: Hygiene
Tags: enamel   crown   chip   chipped   broken   cracked   veneer   bonding   root canal  


My daughter has told me before about a recurring dream or nightmare she has, where her front teeth are chipped. She awakens and runs to the mirror in horror to make sure it isn’t true. This fear is actually not too uncommon. While I am not going to attempt to analyze or interpret what that dream might mean, I can tell you some things that may cause chipped, cracked or broken teeth as well as the basics on some solutions should this occur.

Biting on hard things such as ice, hard candy or the like; high-impact sports; accidents; bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth); decay and poor nutrition can all contribute or cause chips, cracks or breaks in teeth. I read a study in the last couple years which indicated around 30% of patients in their 40’s have at least one chipped tooth.

If you have chipped a very small piece of tooth enamel I often do bonding using tooth-colored composite resin. This is a very simple procedure that usually does not even require numbing the tooth. We roughen the surface to make the bonding material stick to it. Then we apply an adhesive and bonding material. We shape it so that the tooth looks natural and then use an ultraviolet light to harden it.

If you break a larger piece of tooth or there is decay present, I may file it and cover it with a crown.  Permanent crowns are either made of metal, resin or porcelain. Metal are the strongest, but resin and porcelain (ceramic) can be made to look like the original tooth. You can explore our website for further detail on bonding and on crown procedures.

If a front tooth is chipped or broken, a veneer is a great option to make the tooth look completely natural again. Veneers are a thin layer of tooth-colored resin or porcelain material. The application process is very similar to bonding, but the preparation is more involved.

Occasionally, a chip or a break on a tooth is large enough to where the pulp is exposed. The pulp is the center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels. Bacteria can enter and create infection. If your tooth hurts or is sensitive to heat the pulp is most likely diseased and could die. If this happens, it needs to be removed to avoid infection. The solution is a root canal. This involves the removal of the dead tooth pulp, cleaning the root canal and then sealing it, which usually requires a crown. Most of the time, root canals are not any more involved or painful than having a cavity filled.

So, while I am unable interpret dreams and tell you the cause of your nightmarish scenario of chipping your front teeth, I am able to shed some light on possible causes and a handful of reasonable solutions if you happen to have a chipped, cracked or broken tooth