Enamel is a very hard substance, harder even than bone. Because of that, your teeth can withstand the enormous forces you exert while you chew your food. However, one of enamel's main weaknesses is its brittleness. Like glass then, enamel can crack or chip. Unfortunately, because your teeth contain nerves, even an innocuous-looking chip can cause severe dental problems.
However, that doesn't mean that all chips are equal. But it does mean that you should treat a chipped tooth eventually.
Minor Chips Aren't a Pressing Concern
Did you know that the average thickness of your tooth enamel is around 2.58 mm? That doesn't leave much room for you to work with when it comes to chipped teeth. However, if your chip is only minor, then you can leave it for a few weeks before you get it repaired — as long as you practice good oral hygiene and stay away from acidic or hard foods that might make the chip worse.
But what counts as minor damage? The following list should give you a good idea of what a minor chip looks like.
- A chipped corner of a tooth is minor.
- A chip that leaves a small indentation in the biting surface is minor.
- A barely noticeable chip is minor.
Chips of the above variety won't put the nerves in your teeth at risk. Because of that, you can put off treatment for a few weeks if necessary. However, be aware that a chipped tooth is more likely to fracture than an intact tooth. So, keep this in mind when eating.
Major Chips Can Become Serious Issues
What is a major chip? If a substantial portion of your tooth is missing, consider your chipped tooth an urgent matter. In the centre of each tooth lies a bundle of nerves and blood vessels called the dental pulp. This little bundle may be small, but it is responsible for keeping your teeth nourished and hydrated. It is also responsible for transmitting sensation to your brain.
Because the pulp allows you to feel temperatures and chewing pressure while you eat, you can easily judge what and how to eat or drink. Without the pulp, you can still use a tooth. However, you won't have any feeling in it. This increases the risk of fractures and damage since the tooth can no longer feel sensation.
If a major chip allows bacteria to enter your tooth, that bundle of nerves and blood vessels will die and rot inside your tooth. Not only will you get a painful tooth infection then, but you could also lose the tooth.
If you have chipped your tooth, get it repaired as soon as you can. Remember, even a small chip could turn into a large and damaging chip.
For more information, contact a dentist.