Why Are My Teeth Chipping Easily?

At Harmony Dental Group, we help our La Jolla, CA neighbors access efficient, quality dental care when it matters most. A common concern or emergency that people call us about is chipped teeth. Chipped teeth are typically due to injuries, cavities, or even old fillings giving out. Timely treatment is important for both pain relief and aesthetic purposes.

If you have a chipped tooth, you need to see a dentist right away to have it repaired. Otherwise, the break will likely get worse.

Why Teeth Chip

Chipping a tooth can happen for various reasons, and understanding these causes can help you take proactive steps to prevent future damage. Here are some of the most common situations that result in chipped teeth:

  • Trauma: Accidents and injuries, such as slipping at the pool, falling on stairs, sports-related incidents, or car wrecks, can all lead to chipped teeth.
  • Biting Down on Hard Objects: Chewing on hard objects like ice, un-popped popcorn kernels, or pens can put excessive pressure on your teeth, leading to chips or cracks. Even chronic nail biting can lead to flat, worn-down teeth.
  • Tooth Decay: Just because you don’t see a cavity doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Cavities weaken the structure of your teeth. Over time, untreated cavities inside of teeth can result in a weak layer of enamel that is more susceptible to chipping or breaking when you bite down on it.
  • Bruxism: Chronic teeth grinding or clenching, which usually happens during sleep or because of stress, can wear down and weaken teeth, making them more prone to chipping.
  • Occlusal Concerns: If your teeth fit together in an irregular manner—due to issues like crowding or other orthodontic concerns—it can place excessive pressure on specific teeth, causing them to break down more quickly.

Other Reasons for Tooth Chipping

While the reasons listed above are the most common causes of chipped teeth, there are some less obvious factors that can also come into play:

  • Age: As we age, our teeth naturally wear down and may become more brittle and prone to chipping. Regular dental check-ups can help identify potential issues early on before problems become severe.
  • Diet: A diet high in acidic or sugary foods and beverages can erode tooth enamel, making them more susceptible to chipping and decay.

How Chipped Teeth Are Repaired

Depending on the extent of your tooth damage, our La Jolla dentist may recommend one of the following treatments: 

Dental Bonding: For minor chips in front teeth, dental bonding is a simple and cost-effective solution. A tooth-colored resin is applied to the area and shaped to restore the tooth’s full appearance.

Porcelain Veneers: Veneers are thin shells of porcelain that fit over the front surface of teeth. They are an excellent option for teeth with moderate chips or other cosmetic concerns.

Dental Crowns: If a tooth has a substantial chip or is structurally compromised, a dental crown is usually recommended. Crowns cover the entire tooth, providing strength and protection so that you can bite down on it normally.

Tooth Contouring: Enamel reshaping involves smoothing out and polishing the chipped tooth. This method is best for tiny chips that you can feel but aren’t quite noticeable when you smile.

Root Canal Treatment: If the fracture in your tooth exposes the pulp (nerve) inside of it, a root canal will be needed to prevent total tooth loss.

Extraction and Dental Implant: Deep cracks that extend into the root of a tooth may require removing the tooth altogether. A dental implant can then be used to restore the missing tooth.

Preventing Chipped Teeth

Most situations that cause chipped teeth can be prevented by:

  • Avoiding Hard Foods: Be cautious when biting into hard foods like ice or hard candies that can exert excessive pressure on your teeth.
  • Wearing a Mouthguard: If you participate in contact sports or grind your teeth at night, be sure to invest in a quality splint or mouthguard made by our La Jolla dentist.
  • Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss regularly to keep your teeth strong and free from decay.
  • Scheduling Regular Dental Check-ups: Routine dental visits allow us to identify and address issues like small cavities earlier, preventing potential chipping.
  • Addressing Misaligned Teeth: Correcting major tooth misalignment through orthodontic treatment (such as clear aligners or braces) can reduce the risk of uneven biting pressure and chipped enamel.

What to Do If You Chip a Tooth

Chipping a tooth can be a distressing experience, but knowing what to do can make a significant difference in the overall outcome. Here’s a step-by-step guide on what to do if you chip a tooth:

Assess the Damage: Examine the chipped tooth carefully. Note the extent of the damage, including any pain, bleeding, or sensitivity.

Rinse Your Mouth: Gently rinse your mouth with warm salt water to remove any debris or blood. Be careful not to swallow any fragments of the chipped tooth.

Apply Pressure: If there is bleeding, apply a clean gauze or cloth to the area and place gentle pressure until the bleeding stops.

Pain Relief: Over-the-counter pain relievers like Motrin or ibuprofen can help alleviate most toothaches. Avoid placing aspirin or any medication directly on the damaged tooth, as it may cause further damage.

Save the Broken Fragment: If you have a chipped piece of tooth, keep it moist by placing it in a sealed container with milk or a saline solution. In some cases, it may be possible for us to reattach it.

Contact Our Dentist: Call Harmony Dental Group immediately to schedule an appointment. Prompt treatment can help prevent additional damage and ensure the best possible outcome.

Avoid Chewing on That Tooth: Do not chew on the affected side of your mouth, and refrain from eating hard or crunchy foods.

Call Our Office to Schedule Your Appointment

At Harmony Dental Group, we work hard to provide fast emergency dental treatments for chipped teeth. If you live in the La Jolla, CA area and have a broken tooth, we encourage you to contact us right away.