What Do I Do About a Chipped Tooth? 

When you chip a tooth, it’s understandable to not know what to do. Are you supposed to just ignore it? Is it really that big of a deal? Is a chipped tooth something you have to call the dentist about?  

These questions are normal. Whether you slipped and fell and chipped a tooth or just bit down too hard on something, the root cause is likely the same—enamel that has weakened over time. That’s why the answer is yes, you should always let your dentist know if you chip a tooth. They will be able to treat it and make everything good as new.  

To learn what to do about a chipped tooth in the meantime, we’ll look at: 


    • The root cause behind a chipped tooth  

    • Caring for your chipped tooth until you can see the dentist 


    • Treating a chipped tooth 

While it might not seem like such a big deal at first, especially if the chip is tiny, a chipped tooth can lead to much bigger problems if left untreated. Keep reading to learn more about chipped teeth and what you should do about them. 

The Root Cause Behind Chipped Teeth 

If you’re reading this, it’s likely because you’ve already chipped a tooth. That could have been by biting down on something hard like candy or ice, an accident, not wearing a mouthguard during sports, or even grinding your teeth while you sleep. 

But this is only the surface cause. The real cause behind the damage is the wearing down of your enamel over time. This weakens the tooth and makes it more prone to chipping, cracking, and breaking. There are a number of reasons why your enamel might wear down. Two of the main culprits are tooth decay and cavities. You see, your enamel works as the shield for your teeth, the tough outer layer defending the soft inner parts of your teeth. When your enamel becomes soft, then your teeth are easily chipped and broken, and the inner tooth exposed. 

Other potential sources of enamel weakening include large fillings or even certain foods. Foods high in acid or sugar tend to erode the enamel and expose the surface of the teeth. Over time, this can eventually lead to chipping. Instead of opting for coffee, soda, or another box of Nerds, try to incorporate more dental-health-friendly foods into your diet.   

Keep in mind, though, acids from your food aren’t the only kind to worry about. Those who experience digestive issues such as heartburn and acid reflux and similarly, people who drink too much are all more likely to experience enamel loss from acid exposure. 

 It’s smart to speak to your dentist to determine the cause of softening enamel in your specific case. As you can see, the causes are many and varied, and figuring out what the problem is for you will go a long way in preventing any future chipped teeth. Now that we understand the root cause behind why chipped teeth occur, let’s see what you can do about it.  

Caring for Your Chipped Tooth Until You Can See the Dentist 

You may be thinking, great—it’s nice to know that my enamel is soft, but my tooth is already chipped. What am I supposed to do now? A chipped tooth probably seems like an irritation, something to be either ignored or else a total hassle. Please know that chipped teeth should never be ignored, no matter how much of an inconvenience it may seem. It may feel like a bit of a hassle, but it’s always best to go see your dentist as soon as possible if you have chipped tooth to avoid infection or losing it completely. 

Until then, focus on minimizing the pain and preventing any further damage. Sometimes, a chipped tooth can have a sharp or jagged edge that can harm the inside of your mouth if you’re not careful. To prevent cutting your cheek, tongue, or lip, put a piece of sugarless gum or wax paraffin over the sharp edge. This will act as a short-term cap that will protect you from a painful accident. If the chipped tooth is causing you pain, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen as needed. You can also swish warm salt water in your mouth to try and alleviate any discomfort until you’re able to see the dentist. You’ll want to avoid any hard foods until you can see your dentist. This is simply a precaution to prevent the problem getting any worse.  

Treating a Chipped Tooth 

Your dentist will assess the severity of your chipped or broken tooth and decide how to treat it. If it’s only a small chip, it may be able to be fixed in one visit. Larger breaks and fractures may require multiple visits and be much more expensive. 

Dental Bonding or Filling 

A small chip can usually be fixed with a filling. Chips to front teeth will also require bonding which adds a special composite resin to match the color of your tooth. This makes the chip less noticeable. That way, you don’t have to worry about feeling self-conscious. 

One of the great things about bonding is that it doesn’t require the tooth to be numbed. Your dentist will start by roughing up the edge of the tooth so the bonding material will bond to it better. Next, they will apply the adhesive and the tooth-colored resin. Once the bonding material has been shaped, the dentist uses a UV light to speed up the hardening process.  

Dental Caps and Crowns 

If a tooth has a larger break, your dentist may recommend a dental crown or cap. This also works if your tooth has experienced a lot of decay. Crowns are a type of cover that protects the tooth while also improving its appearance. They can be made from metal, ceramic, resin, or a fusion of metal and porcelain. Metal crowns are the strongest, while resin and porcelain appear most realistic. If you have a cap or crown down, it will likely require two visits. 


Veneers are a thin shell that fit over your front teeth, giving the appearance of a totally normal tooth. They’re made of resin composite material or porcelain. Due to the grinding of the tooth that has to take place for the veneer to fit, the process is a bit more intensive. If you have a veneer, the shape of your tooth will be permanently altered.  

Root Canal 

In the worst cases of chipped teeth, the pulp of the root will be exposed. These are the blood vessels and nerves at the center of the tooth. When this happens, bacteria from the mouth can infect the pulp, causing your tooth to become sensitive, hurt, or change color. To prevent the death of pulp tissue and removal of the tooth, your dentist will remove any dead pulp, clean the root canal, and seal it to prevent new infections. Though people often have an intense concern about root canals, they’re really no more painful than filling a cavity. Most people will require a crown to protect the weakened tooth. 

If you have a chipped tooth, tell your dentist immediately. Even if the chip is tiny, even if you don’t think it’s a very big deal, let your dentist know. If you don’t, you risk the chip growing bigger and the source of your weak enamel simply getting worse, potentially all without your knowledge. 

If you have any questions about chipped teeth or how to deal with them or would simply like to schedule your next appointment, contact our office today.  

About Our Team

Our team of dental experts has well over 30 years of combined experience in the field of dentistry. 

To learn more about them, please visit our team page or contact us here!