When you chip a tooth in a major way, you're going to know about it. You'll feel the crack as a large section of your tooth's structure gives way under pressure from a hard piece of food, an accident involving a foreign object, or even under pressure from an opposing tooth—for those who grind their teeth. When you chip your tooth in a minor way, you may not know about it until later. Fortunately, these smaller chips can usually be smoothed out of existence.
A Surprise for Later
With a minor chip that has only removed a small piece of your dental enamel (which is the strong, outermost layer of your teeth), you might not even notice it at the time. Enamel has no nerves, and no way to register pain. You may only find out about it when your tongue makes contact with the chip, allowing you to feel the newly-exposed sharp edges of the tooth.
Fortunately, these small chips can be repaired without needing to rebuild the tooth. Larger chips may need to have the missing section restored with composite resin (the same material a dentist uses to fill a cavity), or even a crown fitted over the entire tooth. Your own needs aren't quite so comprehensive.
Smoothing Away Sharp Edges
Dental contouring is when a dentist uses a small bur (which is a buffing tool) to smooth away the sharp edges of the tooth. Evening out the chip protects your tongue and other soft tissues in your mouth from these sharp edges. It also prevents these sharp edges from catching on food or your other teeth, which can lead to further chipping.
You won't feel any discomfort when your dentist uses the bur, although this tool can produce vibrations. Your dentist can numb your jaw if you're particularly sensitive. For teeth towards the rear of your mouth (known as posterior teeth), your dentist will contour the chip away, and this will be the end of any required treatment.
A Symmetrical Smile
With anterior teeth (those towards the front of your mouth, which are visible when you smile and speak), additional measures may be needed. Although only a tiny fragment of the tooth's structure will be contoured away, your dentist will want to achieve symmetry. For example, if the chip meant that you need contouring on your lower left canine (cuspid) tooth, your dentist may also decide to contour your lower right canine tooth to ensure that the corresponding teeth in the same dental arch are symmetrical.
Remember that only a tiny fragment of the tooth's surface is removed during contouring, so your smile will not be drastically transformed. The process is an efficient and comfortable way to overcome the effects of a minor chip. For more information, contact a dentist near you.Share