Signs of a Broken or Chipped Tooth
Treating a broken or chipped tooth can be tricky because these teeth don’t always cause dramatic, noticeable symptoms. Sometimes a chipped tooth on your bottom teeth can cause pain in your upper teeth, making it difficult for you and your dentist to pinpoint exactly where the chip has occurred. While you may recognize something doesn’t feel “right” about your teeth, you may have trouble knowing just what tooth is causing the problem.
“In my practice, I’ve seen people who unknowingly chipped a tooth eating something as simple as an olive,” says Joseph Payne, DDS, a dentist with a private practice in Chattanooga, Tenn. “These can be particularly troublesome because food particles, such as an olive pit, can be left behind and embed into the tooth.”
Not-So-Subtle Signs of a Broken or Chipped Tooth
While it’s not lucky to have a chipped or broken tooth, it is lucky if you experience symptoms that help you identify it. Some common signs of a broken or chipped tooth include:
• Increased sensitivity to heat or cold
• Sensitivity to sweet, sour or sticky food
• Pain when chewing or clenching your teeth
• Roughness or unevenness in your tooth
• A visible crack that can be felt when touching your tooth
“Not all chips need repairing, but it’s advantageous to have them looked at because it can save you a lot of discomfort and money,” Dr. Payne says. “It’s always less involved and less expensive to have the tooth repaired if you need it.”
Less-Subtle Signs of a Broken or Chipped Tooth
Sometimes knowing the causes of a chipped or broken tooth can help you identify if it happens to you. Biting or chewing on hard foods, grinding your teeth at night or a sports injury can contribute to a chipped or broken tooth. Sometimes your jaw or gums also will hurt because your tooth has absorbed some of the impact from the damage.
If you bite on a hard piece of food and feel as if your tooth has shifted or hear a visible cracking noise, these symptoms can indicate you may have chipped or broken a tooth. Don’t ignore these signs — seek immediate dental treatment to evaluate your tooth. Your dentist may use tools such as x-ray imaging to identify any potential chips, cracks or breakage.
Sometimes a chipped or broken tooth is a little more obvious, particularly when it occurs from trauma such as a bicycle accident or fall. If you have tooth fragments that result from a chipped tooth, save them. While this does not mean your dentist will necessarily be able to repair your tooth with them, the fragments can tell your dentist a lot about how and why the chip occurred.
While you can rinse the tooth out to clean away any blood or dirt, don’t scrape or scratch the tooth because you risk damaging it further. Seek dental treatment right away because you don’t want to leave the tooth exposed for an extended period of time. Doing so not only causes a lot of pain for you, it also can result in diseased or damaged inner portions of your tooth that may necessitate dental interventions such as a root canal.