Chipped tooth

What to Do When You Chip a Tooth

If you chip a tooth, don’t panic. Chipped teeth are common and can easily be treated by your dentist. However, there are a few things you should know about chipped teeth so that you know if you are experiencing a dental emergency.

Let’s discuss some of the questions your dentist will ask you to determine the severity of the chip and what treatment options might be recommended.

Are you experiencing pain?

Chipped teeth can range in severity. Small chips usually don’t have any symptoms, except maybe a sharp spot that could rub your cheeks or tongue. Larger chips that involve more of the tooth structure could cause pain.

If you have some sensitivity after chipping a tooth, it is likely caused by the exposed dentin. The dentin is the layer of tooth structure under the enamel. It is more sensitive than enamel because it is more porous.

If you’ve chipped a tooth into the dentin, it is common to experience sensitivity to cold or sweets. If you experience this when your dental office is closed, you can wait to get an appointment when they open again. But, of course, that is as long as you are comfortable.

If you experience a constant dull ache or lingering sharp pain after chipping a tooth, this qualifies as a dental emergency, and you should call your dentist right away. Most likely, enough of the tooth structure chipped that it exposed the nerve of the tooth. Once a nerve is exposed, it can be very painful.

Is the area bleeding?

Bleeding after chipping a tooth might signify that something more serious is occurring. You should rinse your mouth with warm salt water (1/2 teaspoon of salt with 8 ounces of water). If the bleeding continues, call your dentist.

A chipped tooth with bleeding often indicates there was gum trauma. This often heals on its own, but your dentist should address it to be sure.

Is it a permanent or primary tooth?

While treatment for permanent (adult) teeth and primary (baby) teeth is often the same, children do not tolerate pain or discomfort as well as adults. We do not want your child to have any fear when going to the dentist, so a chipped primary tooth should be treated more quickly.

What To Do When You Chip a Tooth

We’ve talked about some of the symptoms you may have after chipping a tooth. Now, let’s talk about the steps to take if you or your child chip a tooth.

Step 1

Rinse with warm saltwater. The saltwater will help clean the area and reduce your risk of infection.

Step 2

If the area is bleeding, use a cool towel or gauze and press on the bleeding area. Use light pressure only. This should help alleviate some discomfort and cover up any exposed dentin or nerves.

Step 3

We prefer to treat chipped or broken teeth as soon as possible. However, if you are traveling or cannot make an appointment, most drug stores sell temporary dental cement. You will place some of the cement on the broken area, which will help prevent sensitivity, protect the area, and cover any sharp edges.

The cement is temporary and will dislodge easily, so be careful when eating and drinking.

Step 4

Call our office! We always have emergency appointments available and will get you scheduled quickly.

How To Fix a Chipped Tooth

There are several options to fix a chipped tooth. The treatment your dentist recommends will be based on how much of the tooth structure is missing.

Composite Fillings

Fillings can restore a tooth that has a minimal chip. Composite fillings are tooth-colored and will blend in with your natural tooth structure. We often place fillings in primary teeth even if a larger portion of the tooth is missing. This is because the primary tooth will eventually be lost, and a filling will be adequate for the time being.


Veneers are used in several instances. They are most often used when an anterior (front) tooth has been chipped. Even if just a small piece of the tooth is broken, a veneer is often preferable to a filling because a veneer will look more natural and will last much longer.


If a large piece of the tooth is chipped, sometimes there is not enough tooth structure left to place a filling. In that case, a crown will need to be placed. A crown fits over the entire tooth, preventing the tooth from breaking again. In some cases, a root canal will need to be performed. This is common if the nerve of the tooth has been exposed.

Have a chipped or broken tooth?

If you are looking for a “dentist near me” or “emergency dentist near me“, make sure to visit dental clinic that offers both emergency and cosmetic dental services. At our dental office in South Gate we offer both emergency and cosmetic dental services to restore your tooth while making it natural-looking again!

Your Trusted South Gate Dentist

Get the bright and healthy smile you always wanted!