Chipped tooth

A chipped tooth has many causes including:

-biting down on something hard like ice or candy

-car accidents


-Playing sports without a mouth guard

-Grinding your teeth while you sleep

Whatever the cause for your chip one thing is for sure, you are going to want to get it fixed.

Note, if you have a medical emergency call 911 - for an urgent dental situation contact a 24 Hour Dentist near you, a walk in Dentist near you, pediatric dentist, sedation dentist, or even a Sunday Dentist near you.

Chipped tooth

Is a chipped tooth an emergency?

A chipped tooth requires a dental exam so as to assess the damage and treatment.

Whatever the cause of your chip it left part of your tooth missing.  Now, for medium or some large chips a dentist may use a dental filling to replace the piece that broke off.  Without a doubt you may need a crown if more of the tooth was lost, or if it was a deep chip.  Generally, a root canal may even be needed if the tooth’s pulp or nerve are exposed.

Surely a chipped tooth may not need any dental work if it is small.  Unfortunately only a dentist can really tell.  In addition it could get worse if you wait due to another chip, break, or even a cavity or infection.  Basically, it is too risky to leave yourself at risk for infection, make an appointment to see a dentist immediately.

Is a chipped tooth an emergency

Fix at home

A chipped tooth can only be properly diagnosed with a dental exam.  Given that, make your dentist appointment immediately.

Here are some fixes at home to try while you wait for your appointment time:

  1. Check your pharmacy for an over the counter pain reliever
  2. Use a salt water rinse to reduce any possible infection
  3. Use dental wax to cover any jagged edges
  4. Eat soft food and do not bite down on injured tooth

Immediate fix for chipped tooth

If you suffer a chip certainly make an appointment to see a dental professional right away.  Meanwhile, follow these steps to care for a newly chipped tooth:

Rinse.  Rinse the tooth with warm water.

Pressure.  If there is any bleeding in your mouth apply pressure with a piece of gauze to the area.

Cover.  If you can’t see the dentist on the same day, then use dental wax or dental cement to cover the tooth.  By all means ask your dental professional which product is best for your dental situation.

How dentist will fix chipped tooth

The treatment for a chipped tooth your dentist selects will be determined by the size of the chip.

Small chip.  For a really small chip your dentist may simply polish the tooth.

Medium chip.  For a medium size chip that removes part of the tooth’s enamel your dentist may need to place a crown to protect the tooth.  This will enable full function of the tooth, restoring your oral health and also addresses the risk of infection.

Large chip.  For a large chip that reaches the tooth’s nerve a root canal will certainly be needed to remove the damaged nerve.  Then a crown will need to be placed to protect the tooth.

Filling or bonding for chipped tooth

If your chipped tooth just takes off a bit of the enamel your dentist may do a filling.  If it is in a place visible when you smile you may get bonding - a type of resin matching your tooth's color.

Fixing a tooth with bonding is a simple procedure, not usually requiring anesthesia.  Firstly, your dentist will apply a liquid called etching to prepare the chipped tooth by making it rough.  Next a resin is applied to the tooth and shaped to make give a natural appearance.   Then an adhesive is added to match the color to your teeth and ultraviolet light is used to harden the material.

Dental veneers

A dental veneer will be used if your chipped tooth poses too much of a challenge for filling or bonding.  Veneers are generally made out of resin or porcelain providing an attractive, natural look for your smile.

According to a study published by the International Journal of Prosthodontics  veneers can last for 10 to 20 years.  So veneers can be a good choice, especially if you have repeatedly chipped your filling or bonding.

Dental crown or cap

A dental crown is used to entirely cover a damaged tooth.  While a veneer only covers one side of the tooth, a crown provides support and protection for the whole tooth.

Crowns are used when a chipped tooth loses a large section requiring prevention from infection and damage to exposed nerves.

How much does it cost to fix a chipped tooth?

The cost can range from a few hundred dollars for a simple cosmetic procedure.  Really the only way to know is to have a dental exam.  Plainly, the cost will be different for a filling, crown, veneer, or root canal.  In some cases, insurance may cover some or all of the cost depending on your situation and insurance.

One tip, while you can often go back to work the day after a root canal having this dental procedure performed on a Friday will provide the weekend to recover.  This can help you get back to work without taking time off by  recuperating over the weekend.

How long does it take to fix a chipped tooth?

Fixing a chipped tooth might need one relatively simple visit.  Or it may take several for your dental professional to complete the exam, filling, crown, root canal, or veneers.  Your dentist will be able to make a plan with you once you complete your dental exam.


A chipped tooth can be a serious dental situation with risk of infection.  Make an appointment immediately to see a dental professional and get the care you need.

Chipped tooth Resources