There are several options when it comes to restoring chipped front teeth. The best option depends on the severity of the fracture.
The 5 options for chipped teeth include:
- Do nothing: If the chip is small enough and it doesn’t bother you, you don’t necessarily have to do anything about it. If your dentist notices craze lines or enamel fractures that extend out from the chipped area, he or she may recommend restoring it to prevent further unpredictable breakage of the tooth.
- Smooth the affected area: If the chip is small and there’s no signs of damage or more extensive fracture, sometimes your dentist can polish and blend the affected area so it’s not as noticeable and it doesn’t feel sharp.
- Place a composite filling: If the chip is small or moderate, your dentist can bond a composite filling to restore the tooth’s shape and function. Doing this requires the removal of a small amount of tooth structure on the front side of the tooth. Your dentist will need to bevel the tooth several millimeters above the area of the fracture, so that the composite material can extend up and onto the front side of the tooth. Preparing the tooth this way provides two benefits: it vastly increases the filling’s retention by increasing the filling to tooth contact, and it ensures a better blend between the tooth and filling for a more favorable esthetic result.
To restore a chipped front tooth with a filling, a small amount of enamel is removed at a shallow angle on the front side of the tooth.
If you opt for a filling, you should be aware that it will most likely debond and need to be replaced from time to time. Several factors affect the longevity of these fillings, such as the strength and depth of your bite, diet, and clenching or grinding habits. These fillings can last anywhere from one to several years. For a longer lasting restoration, or for larger fractures, consider a veneer or crown.
- Veneer or crown: A veneer is a thin porcelain covering that is cemented to and covers the entire front side of the tooth. A crown is a cemented porcelain cap that covers the entire tooth circumferentially. Both these procedures involve more extensive reduction of the tooth than a filling, so they are more aggressive treatment options, but they may be more appropriate if the fracture is too severe for a filling to fix.
- Root canal, post and crown: For severely fractured teeth, it is sometimes necessary to remove the nerve of the tooth, so that the canal that previously housed the nerve can be used to place a metal post. This post helps retain a crown to the root of the tooth. In cases where there is not a lot of remaining tooth structure, there is not enough for a crown to “grip” the tooth. The post helps increase the crown’s retention to ensure it stays connected to the tooth.