Every tooth is made up of a bone, surrounded by tooth enamel – a substance harder than steel, able to chew through meats, nuts, and other solid foods and come away without even the smallest bit of damage. Your teeth are made to withstand incredible force and friction.
Still, it is possible – in fact, common – for teeth to chip. Even with outstanding dental hygiene and frequent dental appointments, there is always the potential for your teeth to chip and crack. In some cases, this damage is only cosmetic. In others, it may be considered a dental emergency.
Understanding how and why teeth may chip can help you prepare, and possibly even protect yourself, from this common problem.
Causes and Risks for Chipped Teeth
Before exploring the causes of chipped teeth, it is important to understand that hardness and durability are not necessarily synonymous. Although the enamel on teeth is hard, it is also brittle, and thus always at a minor risk for damage. Teeth may chip for several reasons, most notably:
- Unexpected Trauma – If something comes into contact with your teeth, such as a hockey stick, elbow, or table edge, your teeth may not be able to withstand the trauma.
- Hard Foods – Similarly, if you happen to chew something that is similarly hard, such as a jawbreaker candy or nut shell, the impact could put pressure on the tooth and cause it to chip.
- Decay and Previous Damage – Finally, if you do suffer from dental issues, such as tooth decay, your teeth may become more brittle and at greater risk of damage.
- Bruxism – Some people grind their teeth at night. This is known as “bruxism.” Mild grinding is unlikely to damage healthy teeth, but severe grinding does have the potential to chip teeth.
These are situations where tooth chipping may occur.
There are also issues, both dental and health related, that could increase your risk for chipped teeth. Examples include:
- Acid Reflux Disease – Those with GERD have persistent acid reflux that can soften teeth enamel, leading to less protection from chips and cracks.
- Dietary Issues – Some diets are low in nutrients that teeth need to stay hard. Others may have too much sugar and other enamel weakening minerals.
- Old Fillings – Dental fillings do not possess the same strength as enamel and bone. As they age, they may also weaken. Pressure against the filling may cause it to fall out and the tooth to chip.
- Alcohol Use – Frequent drinking of alcoholic beverages has an acidic effect that can wear down enamel, leading to weaker teeth.
- Poor Dental Health – If you do struggle with tooth decay, cavities, and other issues, your teeth may be weaker and more prone to chipping in otherwise normal situations.
Even with the best dental care, tooth chipping is a possibility. But the more you engage in specific behaviors, or the more your dental health struggles, the greater the risk of tooth damage.
Treatment for Chipped Teeth: Peabody Dental Care
Peabody Dental Care, led by Santa Cruz dentist Dr. Guy Peabody, is the leading choice in for cosmetic and restorative dentistry south of The Bay. We have several options for chipped teeth depending on the location and size of the chip, with treatments that are natural looking, long lasting, and pain free.
See why we are the leading choice for cosmetic dentistry in Santa Cruz. Contact us today at 831-457-0343 to schedule an appointment.