When most people chip a tooth, they think first about the damage it did to their smile, creating an uneven smile line, and potentially even a black hole in the middle of their grin.

But there are many other potential effects of a chipped tooth that argue for rapid repair with bonding or a veneer.

Middle aged blonde woman in plaid shirt and jeans enjoys the outdoors, tending to flowers. While working in the public, it's important to have a great smile but a chipped tooth might add to insecurities.

Sharp Edges

Tooth enamel is similar to glass, and when it chips it can create very sharp edges. These sharp edges can easily cut your tongue, creating numerous small cuts.

In addition to being immediately painful, these cuts can make  your tongue sensitive to foods that contain salt or acid.

You might count on the sharp edge to wear down so it won’t cut you anymore, but this might not happen as quickly as you think. Teeth are very hard and resist wear–it’s part of their design. Wear gets slowed down by the fact that a chipped tooth won’t contact the same way a full tooth does. Plus, the edge might not wear down–it might keep chipping.

Vulnerable to More Chipping

Chipping a tooth creates a narrower shape to the tooth, one that concentrates force. The force on the narrowed tooth can lead to more chipping, which creates new sharp edges that can be chipped or flaked off. The process can continue, exposing the dentin underneath the rigid enamel, which is softer and more vulnerable to wear.

Accelerated Decay

In addition to accelerated wear, your chipped tooth might be more vulnerable to developing cavities.

Chipped teeth create areas where food and bacteria can collect. This can lead to more acid production at the site, and the acid attacks your enamel, creating tiny holes that we call cavities.

Plus, a chip can expose the dentin underneath your enamel. Dentin is a softer material that helps give teeth their flexibility. Dentin helps the tooth stay tough, but it’s more vulnerable to wear and to cavities.

Biting and Chewing Might Suffer

If you’ve chipped a tooth, you can change the way your teeth fit together. The team of teeth that was so efficient at biting and chewing has now lost a member. This creates a gap where teeth won’t get cut or ground up. This can make it hard to bite into foods like sandwiches–your teeth might not cut off the bite properly–and it can make you more likely to swallow large chunks of food, which can lead to indigestion or even impacted food.


Tooth enamel performs lots of functions. It looks good, supports the tooth, and provides a hard surface for biting and chewing. It also insulates: protecting the sensitive nerve from changes in temperature and pressure.

When you chip a tooth, some of that enamel is gone, and you might feel it. If your tooth is sensitive to hot or cold drinks, or begins to hurt and throb when you chew, you should consider getting restorations to protect the chipped surface.

You should also be aware that damage to your tooth might be more than a little chip. Sometimes, your tooth might crack, exposing the nerve chamber inside. Once this happens, the chamber can become infected, which can turn into a serious health problem. If your chipped tooth is very sensitive, or if the tooth becomes discolored, you should have a dentist look at it immediately.

Have You Chipped a Tooth in River Edge?

If you have damaged a tooth in River Edge, let us help restore its beauty, function, and health. Please call (201) 343-4044 today for an appointment with a cosmetic dentist at the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.