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Dental Restorations: Repairing a Chipped Tooth

What to do when your child chips a tooth

With healthy, active kids, there’s always a risk of a tooth getting chipped or broken. Broken teeth are not uncommon in children. If there has been a loss of consciousness or other serious injury, medical attention would be the priority.

In case of emergency, dial 911. In other cases that involve an injury, visit the emergency department or an urgent care center. If your child has a chipped or broken tooth and no underlying medical emergency, please contact your dentist right away.

Our dentists can examine the child and determine the extent of damage to the tooth—and what can be done to repair the tooth. We recommend visiting the dentist as soon as possible if a tooth is broken or chipped. It is alright to administer over-the-counter pain medication if there is any complaint of discomfort and to apply a cold pack to the damaged area to reduce pain and swelling.

Finally, if you can locate the tooth fragment, bring it with you to the dentist’s office in a bag with a few drops of saline or water so that the dentist can evaluate the fracture. In some cases, the dentist may be able to reattach the tooth fragment directly onto the break point.

Broken tooth repair: what the dentist can do

How your dentist repairs a broken tooth depends on the size of the chip or break and where in the mouth it is located. In some cases, it may be possible to repair the broken area with a simple filling. Just like when filling a cavity, the dentist will polish and then restore the tooth with restorative material. The dentist may be able to bond the broken tooth fragment, especially if the chip is from one of the front teeth.

In bonding, the dentist uses adhesive, then a resin that is the color of teeth over the affected area. The dentist shapes the resin to look like an uninjured tooth and uses ultraviolet light to harden the resin.

Both of these options can normally be completed in one dental visit depending on the injury.

Repairing larger breaks

Broken tooth repair for larger dental fractures or fractures that affect the pulp chamber (nerve and blood vessels within a tooth) may come in the form of dental crowns or veneers. A veneer is a covering for a tooth that restores form, function and aesthetics. A veneer is often a good option for fractured/chipped tooth repair of the front teeth when the extent of the fracture is too large to successfully bond a composite resin. If the damaged tooth requires a root canal. If the broken tooth exposed the pulp, the living tissue inside of a tooth (nerve and blood vessels), pulpal therapy such as a root canal may be necessary to prevent infection and to prepare the tooth for final restoration to its intended appearance.

Additional Resource: How to keep your child's teeth safe during sports

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