Unfortunately, teeth are not indestructible, even with the best dental hygiene practices. Trauma to the mouth can cause an array of problems, from a chipped tooth to a tooth that is completely broken off. Cosmetic and reconstructive dentistry is a special aspect of dentistry that addresses repairs to damaged teeth. The best treatment will vary dependent on how badly the tooth is damaged.
One of the first things a dentist will do for a chipped tooth is to assess how the injury occurred, and most likely take dental X-rays. The dentist will also ask about any pain the patient may be having as a result of the injury. If there is little or no pain and the dental x-rays show no root damage, the dentist may repair the tooth in one of a few different ways.
If the tooth is only slightly chipped, the dentist may be able to file the tooth smooth again. He or she may also recommend doing nothing if the damage is very minimal, although even minor chips are often treated with either composite or porcelain veneers. Veneers are bonded directly to the tooth, giving it a smooth, natural appearance.
If a tooth is chipped badly or there is pain when chewing or drinking, it may need a crown. A crown is a cap that covers the tooth and both protects it and improves its appearance. Similarly, a badly chipped tooth may also be filled. The same fillings a dentist uses to repair a tooth damaged by cavities can also be used to repair a chip. Veneers, crowns, and fillings can all be made to match existing teeth.
When the damage turns out to be more extensive, greater repairs may be required. A damaged root may require that the tooth be extracted and replaced. If a filling, crown, or veneer becomes chipped, it will also need to be fixed.
Anyone who suffers trauma or injury to the mouth and who experiences damage to the teeth or pain should visit a dentist as soon as possible. Any part of the tooth that is broken off should be brought along, if possible. Sometimes, a chipped or broken tooth can be repaired easily if attention is immediate. Waiting only increases the likelihood of further deterioration caused by unseen damage.