A chipped tooth can be a problem that requires immediate attention. Beyond the cosmetic problem–which most people don’t want to live with–there’s a potential for serious discomfort as well as health problems if a chipped tooth is left untreated.
But trying to decide on your chipped tooth treatment quickly can be a problem, too. Here’s some information to help you understand your options and choose the best one for you.
What Is It: Dental bonding is a composite material made of a plastic matrix that has ceramic inclusions for strength. It starts out as a soft putty, but can be hardened using a light catalyst once it’s been properly shaped.
Pros: Dental bonding is inexpensive. It can also be applied in a single visit, allowing you to get your teeth fixed without returning to the dental office.
Cons: Dental bonding isn’t as attractive as other options. It’s also not as durable.It can wear away or break off as a result of normal wear. Dental bonding is also more susceptible to staining. Doesn’t protect the damaged tooth. May not conceal discoloration of chipped tooth.
What Is It: A porcelain veneer is a thin facade of advanced ceramic that can be bonded to the front of a damaged tooth. After your tooth is prepared to receive the veneer, impressions are taken. Then the veneer is designed and all the information is sent to a dental lab where the veneer is crafted.
Pros: A very beautiful restoration. Can be virtually indistinguishable from a natural tooth. Very stain resistant. A veneer will conceal discoloration that can occur in a tooth after chipping. Veneers are a very conservative way to restore the proper form and function to a chipped or broken tooth.
Cons: Takes two visits two apply: one to prepare teeth and design the restoration, then another to place the veneer. More expensive than dental bonding.
What Is It: A dental crown is like a sheath that fits over the visible portion of your tooth. It essentially provides your tooth with a completely new surface. Dental crowns are prepared using a similar two-step process to porcelain veneers.
Pros: Very beautiful restoration. Blends in nicely with natural teeth, may even be indistinguishable. Covers discoloration in traumatized tooth. Provides full protection for a damaged tooth.
Cons: More expensive restoration. Requires two dental visits to place.
Which Is Best for You?
As you can see, all three tooth repair options are good. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. Deciding which one is best in your situation requires a consultation with a dentist. Typically, you can choose which you prefer and get that one. The only exception is when the tooth has been so damaged that the tooth pulp is exposed to a risk of infection. In that situation, a dental crown is required, and, most likely a root canal.