The hardest thing in this world is to keep a child still for too long. Kids like to run around, jump and play. Their enthusiasm in unbeatable. It is all fun and games until someone gets hurt and chips off their teeth.

The second and third year of a child is marked as the clumsiest years in life. This phase of life is filled with thousands of trips, falls, and bruises.

During such events, children’s teeth are always first in line to get injured. One single fall can easily chip a part of the tooth.

As alarming as it may sound, chipping of a tooth is not a serious condition.

A little bit of knowledge and pre-dental management can help the parents to quickly minimize the permanent damage and make the experience less stressful for their child.

This article will cover some of the most effective ways of dealing with the chipped tooth of your child.

Why is it important to treat the chipped tooth of a child?

Chipped teeth are not a case of a medical emergency. However, chipping of teeth may be a cause for concern. In that case, chipped teeth should be monitored by a dental professional quickly after the incident. (1)

The size of a chip can determine the extent of tooth damage. For example, chipping off a significant portion of the tooth may expose the nerves and cause unbearable pain that may require immediate dental attention.

Ignoring a chipped tooth may lead to further complications like –

What causes chipping of teeth in a child?

Tooth chipping may be caused by –

  • Traumatic fall
  • Teeth weakened by cavities
  • Biting hard objects like nuts or hard piece of candy or chocolate
  • Sports injuries (2)
  • Trauma from accident
  • A habit of grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Poor nutrition

How to distinguish between a chipped tooth and a tooth fracture?

Regardless of whether the tooth is chipped or broken, the treatment depends on the severity of tooth damage.

A chipped tooth usually involves a small portion of the tooth and is not a sign of an emergency.

On the other hand, a tooth fracture may involve a more substantial part of the tooth and may also include the nerves. Bleeding is a common sign associated with tooth fracture. Broken pieces are often mobile and may require removal by extraction. (3)

In any case, as a parent, you should be prepared to deal with both chipping and fracture of the tooth.

How should you deal with your child’s chipped tooth?

The first thing to do while dealing with your child’s chipped tooth is to stay calm. Your anxiety will frighten the child. Chipping of a tooth is a common incidence and can be treated easily by a dentist.

Other things that you can do to deal with your child’s chipped tooth are –

  • Rinse the mouth with warm water – This small step will help to wash the potential irritants away from the tooth surface, clean the blood around the tooth and soothe the pain. Make sure that the water is not too hot, as chipping sometimes causes tooth sensitivity to both hot and cold.
  • If you notice bleeding from the sight of injury, take a clean gauze and apply pressure on the area of bleeding. This method will help to stop the bleeding. Keep replacing the gauze with a new one as required.
  • In case of swelling, apply a cold compress or an ice pack to the face in the area where the swelling has occurred.
  • If the chipped tooth is the cause of a severe toothache, take over-the-counter pain killers. Avoid aspirin especially if there is bleeding involved as it may interfere with blood clotting.
  • Chipped or broken teeth often leave sharp edges that may irritate the tongue and cheeks. In that case, cover the sharp edges with dental wax if available in the house or you can also seal it with a sugarless chewing gum up until you go to the dentist.
  • If the fractured part of the tooth is bothering your child, you can protect it from food particles by using dental cement from your home dental kit. It will seal the area and prevent it from infection.
  • Reattachment of the tooth is a possible dental treatment. For this, it is essential to preserve the fractured part of the tooth in either milk or saliva. These solutions prevent the tooth from drying out. (4)
  • Ideally, you should fix an appointment with a dentist within a few hours of the incident. Call the dentist immediately and explain the situation. Take guidance from them to do your best in providing comfort to your child. Chipped teeth worsen over time. Hence, it is necessary to seek dental attention as soon as possible.

What are the treatment modalities for a chipped tooth?

The treatment of a chipped tooth depends on the severity of tooth damage. Some of the options may include –

Bonding

Bonding is a standard dental procedure performed by applying a layer of composite resin to the tooth that has been chipped. Bonding can last for up to ten years without any signs of further damage, provided with the fact that you take care of your child’s teeth. 

Enamel Shaping

Minor chipping of a tooth may not require extensive dental treatment. The dentist will reshape the teeth, smoothen the rough, uneven edges and make it look natural.

This minimal treatment polishes the smile of the child and is a perfect option for small chipping that doesn’t have any underlying damage to the tooth.

Root canal

In situations where the injury may involve the nerve, the only treatment option possible to fix the tooth is root canal treatment. As horrifying as it may sound, root canal treatments are far less painless than a toothache or an infection.

In this process, the infection is cleaned, the nerves are replaced by new material, and the tooth is covered by a crown to protect it from a further fracture. (5)

Tooth extraction

In cases, where the chip extends below the surface of the gums, the only option of repair is to extract the tooth and replace it with an artificial crown.

Take away message

No parent can prevent a fall, stumble or injury of a child. No matter how much you child-proof your house, the energy and enthusiasm of kids often end up with an accidental fall.

Such incidents are bound to affect the child’s teeth. Teeth are always first in line to fracture when it comes to a fall, bump or a stumble. As parents, it is your duty to be prepared for such events.

While a chipped tooth can be uncomfortable, it is not necessarily the end of good dental health.

Now that you have read about the essential steps to deal with your child’s chipped tooth. Utilize it whenever required and preserve the beauty of your child’s smile forever.

Treatment modalities for a baby\'s chipped tooth are bonding, enamel shaping, root canal treatment, tooth extraction.