To have a chipped tooth is a pretty broad term in dentistry. It might mean that a big chunk of the tooth has broken off. It could also simply mean that a tiny fragment of the tooth's surface has chipped away. If the latter has happened to you, your only clue might be that a certain section of the tooth feels sharp underneath your tongue. There was no pain at all when the tooth was actually chipped, and as such, it's reasonable to wonder—do you even need to do anything about such a minor problem?
A Minor Concern for Now
Although your chipped tooth might be a minor concern, you can't know that for sure. And the damage won't necessarily stay minor indefinitely. Never make any assumptions about the severity (or lack thereof) of a chipped tooth, and you must always have it inspected by a dentist.
After a thorough examination, your dentist will have certain recommendations. If the chip is truly superficial, it will be contained within your dental enamel—the sturdy outer coating of the tooth. If the enamel is still intact, the tooth may not need significant repairs. However, if the sharp edge of the chip is irritating your tongue, your dentist can file it down to smooth away these sharp edges, sparing your tongue from further discomfort.
If your chipped tooth has removed a sufficiently deep section of dental enamel, the tooth's underlying dentin can be unprotected. Although most of a tooth is actually made of dentin, this substance isn't as strong as enamel, and it relies upon its enamel coating to protect it from decay. If any dentin is exposed, the tooth can be more susceptible to further decay. Your dentist will recommend restoring the tooth.
If recommended, restoring the tooth sooner instead of later is always the best course of action. The necessary repairs for such a minor chip will themselves be minor. All your dentist is likely to do is reconstruct the missing fragment of the tooth using a tooth-colored composite resin, which is then shaped and cured with a special light. It's a very quick process.
Should you ignore your dentist's recommendation at the time, and the tooth experiences further deterioration, its restoration won't be quite so simple. It's more likely that the tooth will need to be reinforced with a dental crown, and if the tooth's decay begins to inflame its nerve, then a root canal (removal of the infected nerve) could be unavoidable.
Perhaps no action will be needed other than smoothing the edges of the chipped tooth—and with truly insignificant chips, even this basic step might not be needed. But if your dentist recommends a minor restoration procedure, it's best to heed their warning, otherwise you'll eventually need a major restoration procedure.
To have your teeth inspected, contact a local dental service such as Smile Solutions LLC.