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If you feel a sharp or jagged edge in your mouth after crunching into hard food or suffering an injury, you may have a broken or chipped tooth.
A sharp tooth can be alarming, especially if it pokes your tongue, lips, or cheek. Whether or not you feel pain will depend on the extent of the damage.
Don’t try to smooth the sharp edges of your enamel with a nail file or emery board. Attempting to shave a chipped or broken tooth at home is dangerous and likely to cause more damage.
Your dentist can do many things to treat a chipped tooth. And if you can’t reach their office right away, there are ways to relieve a sharp tooth at home temporarily.
See a dentist as soon as possible if you have a chipped or broken tooth. Untreated broken teeth can lead to infection and tooth loss.
Immediately after you chip or break a tooth:
Knocked-out teeth are considered dental emergencies that must be treated within an hour. Call an emergency dentist for a knocked-out tooth, or call 911 if there’s a serious injury, including loss of consciousness, involved.
Never try to smooth sharp teeth on your own. Try a temporary solution if you're experiencing discomfort while waiting to see your dentist.
You may have seen videos of people smoothing their chipped teeth with a nail file, emery board, or sandpaper. This is dangerous and can lead to permanent damage.
Unlike your nails, tooth enamel doesn’t grow back. Accidentally removing too much can lead to infection and tooth loss. When your dentist reshapes a sharp tooth, they only remove a small amount of surface enamel.
Chipped tooth treatment depends on the severity of the damage. If only a small piece of enamel broke, your dentist might be able to fix it in one office visit. A seriously broken tooth might require a more complex procedure.
Here are the ways your dentist might fix a sharp tooth:
If just a small piece of enamel chipped off your tooth, fixing it may be as simple as smoothing the sharp edge.
Tooth reshaping takes seconds to do and usually isn’t painful. It’ll prevent the chipped area from poking your tongue, cheek, and other soft tissues.
Your dentist may place a filling to fix a tooth with a small chip or break. This is the same procedure as treating a cavity. If the tooth doesn’t require any drilling, you may not even need to be numb. The dentist will pick a shade that most closely matches your natural tooth color.
If a large piece of your tooth breaks off, or if there’s a lot of decay, you may need a crown. Most dentists do this type of restoration in two visits.
A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that covers and protects your tooth. It’ll look just like your natural teeth. First, your dentist may file or grind the sharp edge before covering the remaining tooth with a crown.
A dental veneer is another option for a broken or chipped front tooth. A veneer is a thin shell of tooth-colored material that covers the tooth’s front surface.
Like crowns, veneers typically require at least two trips to the dentist’s office. Your dentist may need to shave down some of the tooth’s enamel for the veneer to fit.
A root canal is the only option if a tooth breaks down to the nerve tissue. Root canals preserve infected or severely damaged teeth that would otherwise need to be pulled.
After the root canal procedure, your dentist will place a crown over the tooth. Having a root canal procedure and crown may take as many as four visits to your dentist.
See a dentist as soon as possible for a chipped or broken tooth. Unfortunately, accidents often happen when dental offices are closed.
If you need a temporary solution to relieve a broken tooth, there are several things you can do at home:
Poking your tongue or cheek on a sharp tooth is a sign you might have a chipped or broken tooth. If so, see your dentist as soon as possible.
There are many ways a dentist can fix sharp teeth, such as smoothing the tooth and placing a filling. If you need relief while waiting to see your dentist, there are several things you can do at home.
One thing you should never do is attempt to file your teeth. This is dangerous and can lead to irreversible damage.
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