You’re crunching ice or a piece of hard candy when you notice something hard in your mouth that doesn’t melt or dissolve. You get a sick feeling as you realize what it is — a piece of broken tooth.
Although the enamel that covers your teeth is the hardest, most mineralized tissue in the body, its strength has limits. Falling, receiving a blow to the face, or biting down on something hard — particularly if a tooth already has some decay — can cause a tooth to chip or break. If you discover you have broken or chipped a tooth, don’t panic. There are many things your dentist can do to fix it.
HOW TO CARE FOR A CHIPPED OR BROKEN TOOTH
If your tooth is broken, chipped, or fractured, see your dentist as soon as possible.
Treatment for a broken or chipped tooth will depend on how severely it is damaged. If only a small piece of enamel broke off, the repair can usually be done simply in one office visit. A badly damaged or broken tooth may require a more lengthy and costly procedure. Here are some ways your dentist may repair your broken or chipped tooth.
DENTAL FILLING OR BONDING
If you have chipped off just a small piece of tooth enamel, your dentist may repair the damage with a filling. If the repair is to a front tooth or can be seen when you smile, your dentist will likely use a procedure called bonding, which uses a tooth-colored composite resin.
Bonding is a simple procedure that typically does not require numbing the tooth. To bond a tooth, the dentist first etches its surface with a liquid or gel to roughen it and make the bonding material adhere to it. Next, the dentist applies an adhesive material to the tooth, followed by the bonding material. After shaping the bonding material to look like a natural tooth, the dentist uses an ultraviolet light to harden the material.
WHAT IS A FILLING?
A filling is a way to restore a tooth damaged by decay back to its normal function and shape. When a dentist gives you a filling, he or she first removes the decayed tooth material, cleans the affected area, and then fills the cleaned out cavity with a filling material.
By closing off spaces where bacteria can enter, a filling also helps prevent further decay. Materials used for fillings include gold, porcelain, a composite resin (tooth-colored fillings), and an amalgam (an alloy of mercury, silver, copper, tin and sometimes zinc).
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET A FILLING?
If your dentist decides to fill a cavity, he or she will first remove the decay and clean the affected area. The cleaned-out cavity will then be filled with any of the variety of materials described above.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I NEED A FILLING?
Only your dentist can detect whether you have a cavity that needs to be filled. During a checkup, your dentist will use a small mirror to examine the surfaces of each tooth.
Anything that looks abnormal will then be closely checked with special instruments. Your dentist may also X-ray your entire mouth or a section of it. The type of treatment your dentist chooses will depend on the extent of damage caused by decay.
From Colgate Website!
WHAT TO EXPECT DURING A FILLING
1.Local anesthesia – at the beginning of your filling procedure, you may be given local anesthesia to numb the area around the tooth.
2.Tooth decay removal – then the dentist will cut through the enamel using a drill to remove any decay. After the dentist removes the decay, the dentist will shape the space to ready it for the filling.
3.Etching –for a bonded filling your dentist will etch the tooth with an acid gel before placing the filling.
4.Resin application – for certain types of fillings the dentist will layer on the resin and harden it using a bright light. This makes it strong.
5.Polishing – after the filling has been placed, your dentist will polish the tooth.