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Don’t worry; a chipped tooth can be fixed

As a dentist, one of my worst fears in life is to chip a front tooth. But, even if this were to happen, I know thanks to advances in modern dentistry, the calamity can be fixed with a variety of different options depending on the type of damage and the condition of the existing tooth structure.

The first thing we will do is take a radiograph of the tooth and root. Occasionally, the root and pulp (nerve) can be damaged depending on the severity of the trauma. However, most of the time, the dentist can fix a chip with more superficial solutions such as bondings, veneers or crowns.

Smaller chips can be fixed with a simple bonding. The composite material used has many color choices for the dentist to use to best match the natural shade of your tooth. If the chip is shallow enough, the dentist might not even need to numb the tooth. Bondings are very easy and conservative approaches for fixing the tooth. A limitation of bondings occurs when it is used at the very tip of the front tooth. Sometimes, this type of bonding can be easily dislodged.

A more dependable and better esthetic method of fixing a chip is with a veneer. A veneer requires a thin preparation on the front surface of the tooth. The veneer restoration is a beautiful porcelain façade that will be custom made to match the surrounding tooth shape and color.

If the tooth is more severely chipped a crown (cap) might be warranted. This restoration requires more tooth preparation than the other options, but the results create a beautiful porcelain tooth that is custom made to match the surrounding tooth shape and color.

Sometimes a previous bonding, veneer or crown is chipped. Depending on the severity and location of the chip, sometimes the defect can be patched with a bonding. However, if the requirements of the defect are greater than the adhesive abilities of a bonding or if the desired esthetics are not achievable with a bonding, then a new veneer or crown may be warranted.

With all of these options available, if ever you find yourself in this situation, know that it is not the end of the world; your dentist will be able to put your smile back together almost as good as new.