It’s movie night with the family. Everyone is comfortable and the opening credits start. You grab a handful of popcorn and start crunching away when all of the sudden you bite down on an unpopped kernel. You feel the pressure and a bit of pain, and then you notice there’s something hard in your mouth that isn’t a kernel. You just chipped your tooth.
Depending on a variety of factors, this may be a very big deal. Here are some things to keep in mind if you chip your tooth on popcorn (or anything, for that matter).
You may or may not experience some level of pain or discomfort when you chip your tooth. It all depends on which tooth was damaged, and on which part of the tooth. Of course, if you don’t feel any pain this step isn’t relevant for you at the moment. If you are experiencing pain, don’t automatically reach for the extra strength pain reliever; the pain may subside quickly. Regular strength may be sufficient for the moment.
Additionally, you can be proactive with pain relief! When a part of your tooth breaks, the edges of the broken section may be sharp or jagged. If this is the case, try covering the broken section with something like sugar-free gum. This is not a permanent solution, but it may protect your tongue until you figure out what the next step should be.
Remember that the chip or break may feel substantially larger to you than to other people who might be able to see it. You are intimately familiar with the feeling of your own mouth, so anything out of place tends to feel extraordinary. What seems like a massive chasm when you brush your tongue over it may only require a small filling. The point is, don’t rely on your sense of feeling alone to gauge the damage.
If possible, try to look at the break in the mirror or get a picture of it with your phone. Most smartphones can take very high-quality images, so your phone should be sufficient to help you discern the damage. Once you have a verified idea of what the damage looks like, it’s time to give your dentist a call to schedule an appointment.
After you’ve evaluated the extent of the damage, it’s important not to delay too long on scheduling your dental appointment. There are many possible complications that may develop with chipped or broken teeth. For example, depending on where the break is and how deep into your tooth it goes, you may experience extreme discomfort with various food temperatures on either end of the spectrum (hot, cold). There may also be damage to the root of your tooth which can lead to infection. An infected tooth can lead to even more serious complications.
In short, your teeth are not intended to function with pieces missing from them. If you wait too long to see a dentist, there may be some cosmetic and/or additional health risks.
A chipped or broken tooth doesn’t have to ruin your day. Remember – your dentist will be able to repair or even restore the look and function of your tooth. Manage any immediate pain, evaluate the damage, and then contact your dentist. You might even be able to squeeze in that regular check-up you’ve been putting off!