Cracks and chips in your teeth may be the result of general wear and tear or a specific trauma. You may get into an accident or bite into something harder than expected and part of a tooth breaks off.
While the enamel surrounding your tooth is relatively hard and strong, it’s not indestructible. As a result, traumatic injuries or lifestyle factors that break down the protective coating can cause tooth damage.
Beyond the aesthetic impact, a chipped tooth can also accelerate tooth decay or cause infection. If you’re looking to fix a chipped or cracked tooth, your dentist may recommend one of the following cosmetic procedures.
Dental Filling and Bonding
For a greater degree of damage, your dentist may suggest a filling – especially if the chip is not visible.
If the crack is visible when you smile, your dentist may also recommend bonding. A composite resin that lasts up to 10 years with sufficient care is colored like your teeth to seamlessly cover the damage.
To start, the dentist roughs the tooth’s surface with a liquid or gel and adds an adhesive or conditioning liquid on top. Resin is applied to the tooth, then the dentist molds and smooths it to the tooth’s unique shape. The resin is then cured with an ultraviolet light to harden and stay in place. Afterward, the dentist will polish and shape the area, so the resin looks identical to the rest of your mouth.
Custom-shaped pieces of porcelain or resin are bonded to existing teeth to cover chips and cracks. Often used for multiple teeth, veneers simply cover the front of the tooth and improve their cosmetic appearance – including cracks and minor alignment issues.
Compared to similar cosmetic options, veneers tend to offer better durability and stain resistance. With appropriate care, veneers can last up to 30 years. However, patients who grind their teeth may be steered away from veneers, as this motion may eventually wear away or damage the material.
Crowns fit securely around cracked or damaged teeth. The porcelain is tooth-colored and shaped to match the rest of your smile. A dentist may recommend crowns if there isn’t sufficient enamel to fix the crack, the damage affects tooth structure or the patient feels significant pain when eating and drinking.
Crowns are essentially caps that fit around your teeth and ultimately prevent you from losing the affected tooth. Each one is custom-made to match your existing tooth and precisely fit your mouth.
For some patients, crowns are more than cosmetic. They may follow a root canal if the crack extends into the pulp, you’re experiencing some degree of swelling and sensitivity or the tooth is at risk for infection, an abscess or bone loss.
Cracks are not always superficial; sometimes patients can lose a large piece of tooth. If the crack affects a molar, your dentist may recommend an onlay made of porcelain that covers the missing portion. This option improves the tooth’s structure and uses a custom design that blends into the rest of your mouth.
Implants and Bridges
Dentists may recommend one of these procedures if at least one tooth is missing or the crack extends below the gumline. In this latter scenario, the tooth is not salvageable and the dentist will first extract the damaged tooth before adding an implant.
Procedures for implants and bridges often last months, so the patient eventually receives a secure fit and a replacement tooth that blends in with the rest of his or her smile.
To start, your dentist analyzes your jaw for its existing bone density. If there’s enough to support the implant, a titanium screw will be added in place of the missing tooth. This acts as the root and will bond through osseointegration with the existing bone. After the bone and screw have fused, the dentist creates a custom implant or bridge that, along with the abutment, sits on top of the metal implant.
Do you think you’re a good candidate for a cosmetic dental procedure? Contact Smile Dental Center to learn more about bonding, veneers, crowns and other cosmetic options.