Accidents happen, but how do you know if a chipped tooth is a dental emergency? It's a smart question to ask because not every chipped tooth requires the same attention. Sometimes a chipped tooth can be simply treated and is not considered a major cause for concern. However, the nature of your chipped tooth could be severe, and that's when it is a good time to seek dental emergency care. Thankfully, we are here to help you with all your dental needs. We can diagnose your chipped tooth and determine the best course of action for your best oral health.
Knowing if Your Chipped Tooth is a Dental Emergency or Not
No damaged tooth is the same, so it is a good idea to assess your situation for the best possible outcome. There are clear symptoms of a chipped tooth that indicate emergency dental treatment is required. For example, if you are bleeding, have swelling, or experiencing pain from the site of your chipped tooth this could be a sign of severe damage.
Your tooth is made of layers. When the hard-outer layer (called enamel) is cracked, it reveals another layer called dentin. Beneath the dentin is a network of blood vessels and nerves. If you have bleeding or pain, it is likely the chipped tooth is below the protective layer of enamel, leaving your root nerves exposed. This will cause pain and if left untreated could lead to infection or even tooth loss.
Your chipped tooth is also a dental emergency if the fracture is jagged with sharp edges. Sharp fragments from a cracked tooth can cause scrapes or cuts to your tongue and soft tissue. An irregular broken tooth might also continue to chip which can lead to further damage and deterioration.
These types of scenarios are cause for serious concern and should be treated as a dental emergency. Pain is a distinct indication that there is a problem, and we urge you to call our office for an immediate appointment with one of our caring dental professionals. If, however, you experience none of these symptoms you can take a few simple steps towards preventing further problems until you can reach our dental office.
Taking Steps to Treat a Chipped Tooth
Whether your chipped tooth is a dental emergency as we described above, or just a minor chip, there are things you can do to prevent further damage. First, rinse your mouth with warm water and continue to keep your mouth moist. This will engage your salivary glands, which help protect enamel, gums, and nerves. Even if your chipped tooth is minor, rinsing with warm water and keeping your mouth moist will protect your tooth if there is more damage from the chip than you realize.
It is also a good idea to put a cold compress on the site of your chipped tooth. This will reduce any swelling and alleviate pain. If your chipped tooth is bleeding place a moist, cool cloth or a piece of gauze at the bleeding site and apply mild pressure. This will help staunch the bleeding. Avoid taking aspirin as this thins the blood and will interfere with stopping the blood flow. You can take acetaminophen for pain, but please avoid strong painkillers or numbing agents such as Orajel™ as these might cause more damage than good.
Whether you have a major or minor chipped tooth, your next step should be to give our team of qualified dental specialists a call to make an appointment. We can assess your situation and determine if your chipped tooth is a dental emergency or not. More importantly, we can provide you with the proper care you deserve so you can have peace of mind and a healthy mouth.
Office Hours Monday: 9 AM to 5 PM Tuesday: 8 AM to 5 PM Wednesday: 8 AM to 5 PM Thursday: 8 AM to 5 PM Friday: 8 AM to 2 PM