A cracked or chipped tooth can ruin your smile, and it can also lead to a lost tooth if it isn’t fixed. Tooth enamel is a hard surface, but if a portion of it cracks or breaks due to an injury or from biting down too hard on something, the remaining part of the cracked tooth is left in a fragile condition. Sometimes a crack in a tooth can cause pain if it is near a nerve. A crack can also spread and wind up going below the gum line. When this happens, the tooth cannot be saved. Cracks in teeth never heal like broken bones do, so they need to be repaired by a dentist.
The process of getting a cracked or chipped tooth repaired can be relatively simple if you get to the dentist as soon as possible after first noticing the problem. If you chip your teeth and one full piece comes off, it may be possible for the dentist to reattach the piece to your tooth. When this is not possible, a white filling or a crown can replace the missing portion of the tooth.
A white filling can be made to match the color of your teeth and it can repair a small chip or broken piece of tooth. When a larger portion of the tooth needs to be replaced, a crown is usually used. This is an artificial “cap” that covers the tooth fully. Crowns can also be chosen in a particular shade that will match your other teeth.
A cracked tooth that has been repaired should function like a normal, healthy tooth. Repairing the tooth will also stop any pain and prevent the tooth from weakening. Most importantly, it will prevent a crack from spreading below the gum line and necessitating an extraction. A lost tooth would have to be replaced by a denture or implant, either of which is more involved than repairing a crack or chip.
You can decrease the likelihood of cracking or chipping a tooth by using a mouthguard when participating in sports, avoiding chewing on ice or hard objects like pencils and avoiding clenching or grinding your teeth.