Chipped teeth are both a cosmetic problem and a health danger. Chipped teeth disrupt the appearance of your smile, creating an uneven line and sometimes even dark holes in your smile. Chipped teeth can be more prone to decay, and may crack, exposing the living pulp inside the tooth. Chipping one tooth is the sort of thing that can happen to anyone, but if you find yourself with several chipped teeth, you have to ask why and consider if you might need a more comprehensive solution to the problem.
One problem that could be contributing to chipped teeth is fragile enamel. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, and it’s the most mineralized. But sometimes being hard has its drawbacks: hard enamel can be fragile, too. There are three potential reasons why you might have fragile enamel.
Sometimes, the problem is genetic. There is natural variation in the ways our bodies are put together, and sometimes that can manifest as a problem like fragile tooth enamel.
Or fragile enamel could be developmental. In order to build strong enamel, our bodies need proper nutrition. If you didn’t get it at the right time, your enamel might not have formed properly.
On the other hand, your tooth enamel might be weakened by acidic conditions in your mouth. This could be linked to acidic foods and drinks, or it could be linked to oral bacteria producing acid in the mouth. This will remove minerals from your teeth, making them more vulnerable to chipping and cracking.
Another potential cause of regularly chipping teeth is bad habits, including parafunctions like chewing on nonfood objects. This might be your fingernails or pen tops. Another parafunction that can damage your teeth is using them as tools to open bottles or packets. This can easily damage your teeth.
If you have these bad habits, they might be contributing to your chipped teeth, even if your teeth don’t seem to chip while you’re doing these things.
Another potential cause of chipped teeth is bite problems. Bruxism, teeth clenching and grinding, can be very destructive to teeth. Some people grind with 50 times the force they use when biting and chewing food. That can easily destroy your teeth, causing chips, cracks, and wear.
Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ or sometimes TMD) is another type of bite problems that can potentially lead to chipped teeth. Sometimes, TMJ can be behind bruxism. Other times, this problem can cause an imbalance in bite forces that subjects teeth to more force than they can deal with.
If you have one chipped tooth, it’s often good to take advantage of an inexpensive and easy repair: dental bonding, essentially white fillings. But if you start to chip your teeth repeatedly (and damaging or losing the repairs), it’s time consider more comprehensive solutions.
We can talk to you about your family history to see if you have a history of weak teeth. We can also talk about habits that could contribute to chipping teeth. And we can evaluate your bite to see if there are any underlying issues that are causing chipping.
Then we can propose a more comprehensive solution. This may involve wearing a bite splint to help improve your bite or protect your teeth. Or it may involve using sturdier repairs such as veneers. We may decide it’s best to protect your teeth with dental crowns.
Timely action now could protect your teeth so you can enjoy a beautiful, healthy smile for life.