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6 February 2019

Even the smallest chip in a tooth should be examined by your dentist.

One of the most common types of damage caused to a tooth, other than  tooth decay, is a chipped tooth.

This can happen in a number of ways; from biting something harder than expected, grinding your teeth or even due to a fall or an accident. Sometimes, the chip may be quite large, but others may be quite small and seem almost irrelevant. Whatever the size though, you should always make an appointment to allow one of our Surbiton dental team to take a look at it.

Even a small chip in a tooth can have an effect on the health of your tooth, and mouth. Here are some possible solutions to correct it.

Leave the chip?

Sometimes, it may be better to do nothing when the chip is very tiny indeed. This is not a decision that the patient should take though, without consulting a dentist first. Even the smallest chip can cause problems by cutting or grazing the cheeks and tongue. Not only can this be sore, but may also lead to infections too. If the chip is causing no other problems, but has a sharp edge that causes this, your dentist may simply smooth off the sharp edge for you.

Composite bonding

If the chip in the enamel has not caused the underlying dentin layer to become exposed, an alternative to smoothing off any sharp edges, would be to use cosmetic bonding. This is a resin based material that can be shaped and used to restore the appearance of a chipped tooth, smoothing off any rough edges in the process. It is not as strong as enamel though and its use may be dependent on the strain that particular tooth edge may be subject to within the mouth.

White dental fillings

At the Confidental Clinic, we also offer patients the use of white, or tooth coloured fillings. These can offer a stronger option than composite bonding and are more likely to be used where a chip is a little larger or deeper. It offers more strength to those teeth that perform the role of biting and chewing. They are also ideal for where the teeth are visible as they can also be made to match the colour of your own natural teeth. These are likely to be the first option we consider where the damage to the enamel compromises the inner parts of the tooth.


porcelain crown may be the preferred option where a chip is much larger and can probably be defined more as a breakage, rather than a chip. Where this has happened, not only is the dentin part of the tooth likely to be compromised, but also, if enough of the tooth has been lost, it may weaken it, potentially leading to further breakages. Whilst a filling may be an option, a dental crown often offers a greater degree of strength, and also maintains the aesthetic aspect of the tooth.

To have a crown fitted requires two visits to our Surbiton dental surgery. The first of these will be to examine the tooth and to take an impression. A temporary crown will then be fitted whilst your new final crown is produced, offsite, at a dental laboratory. You will be recalled to the practice when this arrives and your temporary crown removed and your new one fitted. The life expectancy of a crown varies depending on a number of factors, but is usually in the region of ten years or more, before it may need to be replaced.

Dental veneers

Where a visible front tooth has been chipped, and to such a degree that a less invasive option would not be viable, porcelain veneers may provide a good solution. These are used to replace the damaged enamel and provide both an excellent practical and aesthetic solution too. Dental surgery is required to remove a fine layer of enamel from the teeth, after which impressions are taken and used by a laboratory to produce the veneers to fit your teeth. The veneers themselves are attached using a powerful adhesive which should keep them firmly attached for around ten years.

Even a small chip can cause bigger problems if you don’t have it checked out. It is better to be safe than sorry and our dentists are here to help you to find the best solution for this common form of tooth damage.

If you have suffered a recent chip to a tooth and you have done nothing about it, now is the time to seek help. Make sure that your tooth does not suffer further by making an appointment at the Confidental Clinic in Surbiton as soon as possible. You can call us on 020 8399 1291 where you can speak to a member of our friendly reception team.

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