Only a strong force or injury to the teeth will break the tooth, or make it fall out. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the tooth merely chips. A chipped tooth is a big problem, even if it does not hurt immediately. All parts of the tooth serve to protect the tooth from tooth decay, and if a crack in the enamel or the actual deeper structures of the tooth arises, you must see a dentist immediately. Sometimes small cracks can form from such simple things as a sudden change in the temperature of the mouth, like when sipping a hot beverage and even a very minuscule trauma to the mouth can cause a crack in the tooth structure, especially if the tooth is already weakened.
Most of us believe that the tooth is a hard, singular structure. This is not the case, as the tooth is incredibly layered and interconnected. The tooth is actually hollow and filled with a material called tooth pulp, which is alive. This tooth chamber is surrounded by dentine and a hard layer called cementum. This cementum is then also surrounded by tooth enamel, which is what makes the teeth appear white. If any of these layers are cracked or damaged, then the internal structures, the tooth pulp are in danger of becoming infected. All of these parts are necessary, and even if it is “just” the enamel that is cracked or chipped, you should probably get an appointment to go and see your dentist.
Consequences of chipped teeth
If you do not get the tooth repaired after it has become chipped or damaged, these are some of the consequences you can expect:
By having a crack in the defenses of the tooth, the dental nerve will now be exposed to the outside world and will react with pain to the sensation. Sensitivity to changes in temperature or pressure is not rare in these cases, and you can even experience sensitivity to spicy foods, vinegar, and sugary drinks.
A tooth that has weakened defenses is much more prone to tooth decay, as it is now less able to fight off the bacteria in the mouth, and said bacteria can now get into places where it could not earlier, and these places, like the deeper structures of the tooth, simply do not have resistance to bacterial life. In these cases tooth decay will start, and frequently it will start between the layers, which is extremely problematic.
What to expect at the dentist
If you go in when your tooth is just chipped and has not started to hurt or decay, you can expect an extremely easy visit. Probably just a short visit in which the dentist will apply a bit of composite resin to the tooth enamel, and thus seal off the area will be enough. If an infection has started though, the situation may be much worse, as you may need a root canal treatment, and possibly even an extraction. This is why it is so important to visit the dentist right after your tooth has chipped.