February 18, 2020

Chipped Tooth: Causes, Treatment options and cost in Houston TX

By Akeem Ajayi D.D.S

Got a chipped tooth ? How ? The tooth Enamel is supposed to be the strongest substance in the body. It may surprise you that chipped tooth is more common than you may think. Everyday activities like biting hard into popcorn or anything harder can easily chip your tooth. The most obvious culprits, like falling or tripping can also lead to a chipped tooth. The tooth is especially susceptible to chip when they are decayed but luckily for us there’s a fix in fact there are multiple options to fix a chipped tooth. A tooth that has been chipped does not necessarily indicate that the tooth is no longer healthy! more often than not it is the aesthetics of it especially when it’s the anterior or front tooth that sends people to the Dentist office. A chipped tooth in the anterior ruins the attractiveness of your smile and would make you self conscious or unable to smile boldly.

chipped front tooth in a child tooth number 9

Table of Contents

What is a chipped tooth?

A tooth is said to be chipped if any part of the tooth is lost. This is usually the enamel above the gum line making up the crown of the tooth. A chipped tooth depending on the degree of damage can present just an aesthetic problem and in much more serious cases can cause pain and sensitivity.  If left untreated, it can further progress to a more serious one if it was not in the first place that it might require a root canal treatment or extraction of the tooth and replacement.

What Causes a Chipped tooth ?

A tooth can chip for a number of reasons. Some of which are listed below. Several other activities that weakened the tooth such as tooth decay, acid reflux, eating a lot of acidic/ acid producing foods all weaken the enamel and increases the possibility of having a chipped tooth because a weak tooth would obviously chip more easily than a strong tooth :

  1. Getting very large cavities
  2. Eroding enamel
  3. clenching and grinding teeth when you sleep(bruxism)
  4. Having a bad bite eg severely protruded front teeth
  5. Using your teeth as tools
  6. Chewing on Non food
  7. uneven chewing pressure
  8. Fragility of a root canal treated tooth
  9. Getting your tongue or cheek pierced and something hit you on your face
  10. Tripping, falls or car accidents 
  11. playing sports without a mouth guard 

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Does a Chipped tooth Hurt ?

A chipped tooth does not always hurt but it can hurt. to explain why, we need to understand the structure of the tooth.

Tooth structure image enamel dentin and pulp

There are three layers to every tooth. The outer layer known as the Enamel is the strongest substance in the body. A chip that erodes the Enamel would usually not Hurt and this often more of an Aesthetic concern than an actual pain. The reason why you don’t have pain when only the enamel is involved is because enamel have no living cells, they are all dead cells.


The second layer known as the Dentin is not as hard as the enamel and it usually has a pale yellow color. If the chip is big enough that this layer of the tooth is exposed, it may often lead to tooth sensitivity to hot or cold substances and sweet stuff. if you feel sensitivity when you drink hot or cold liquid there is a chance this layer of your tooth is exposed.

Pulp /Nerve

The third layer is the pulp of the tooth most often called the nerve. Any chip or break that exposes this layer of the tooth will make the tooth very sensitive and would often hurt. If you have moderate to severe pain from a chipped tooth, that would most likely be that the chip is deeper than the first  two layers, meaning that the nerve is exposed.

what to do when you chip a tooth

When you chip a tooth, it simply implies that a portion of your tooth has fallen off. When this happens, it is important to ask yourself what caused the chip and to seek a professional consultation with a Dentist. This is because the degree of damage is not always visible nor would it always have symptoms like sensitivity or pain. Your dentist will determine the degree of damage and also follow up with you after treatment because some of these chipped teeth get discolored after some time from the death of the teeth nerves/pulp. Dead nerves if left untreated can lead to infection ( dentoalveolar abscess) or a cyst (radicular cyst).Seeking a dental Examination with Dental X-ray to examine the extent of the damage would be the required action when you chip a tooth.

Chipped tooth vs Cracked tooth

Often these two terms are used interchangeably because of their very similar natures but they are obviously two different conditions. While you would often require similar treatments to fix both of them, The Major difference between the two is that while a chip typically starts on the end/corner of a tooth but a crack can extend all the way to the root in which case extraction-replacement will be the only treatment option.

How much does it cost to fix a chipped front tooth

The Average cost to fix a chipped tooth in Houston TX would range from $100 – $1500 Depending on the  level of damage and of course insurance coverage. Lets break it down.

Chipped Enamel

Chipped Enamel that only requires a composite filling or Dental bonding will range from $100 – $300 in Houston

Exposed Dentin
Exposed dentin in a premolar tooth

A Chipped Tooth that exposes the dentin would usually require a Veneer or a Crown. crowns ranges from $500 – $1000 in Houston 

Exposed Nerve/Pulp
X-ray of teeth broken off at gum line

A chipped tooth that exposes the pulp or nerve would require three procedures. Root canal post and core crown. Depending on which tooth, root canal averages $400- $1200 Plus the cost of the crown to cap the tooth. Root Canal treatment would usually take care of the pain and sensitivity that come with the chip but root canal treatment makes the tooth weak hence the requirement for a crown.Crowns cost anywhere from $500-$1000

Tooth chipped off at the gum line
X-ray of teeth broken off at gum line

A tooth chipped off at the gum line would often require one additional procedure Tooth build up  or post and core. this averages between $125- $300 in Houston

Frequently Asked Questions

Chipped teeth cannot heal or repair itself generally because tooth cannot regenerate or grow. The only option is to get a dentist to fix the chip and luckily there are multiple options available to fix the tooth depending on the degree of damage

It is not always okay to leave a chipped tooth. A chipped tooth is not always a dental emergency either if it’s just a very minor chip. A chipped tooth can however be a Dental emergency especially if the nerve has been exposed. Any chipped tooth that causes pain or sensitivity might also indicate Dental emergency and you should seek professional help immediately. Even when it doesn’t cause pain or sensitivity, it is still recommended to book an appointment with our Dentist to review the extent of the damage. Where patients cannot get immediate dental help, patients in pain can administer some over the counter pain medication, if its a chipped tooth with jagged edges, patient can temporarily cover the jagged edges with over the counter temporary filling material to reduce the risk of cutting the tongue, cheeks or lips. If the nerve is exposed, patients can rinse with salt and warm water reduces the risk of infection.

A chipped tooth does not always hurt but it can hurt. to explain why, we need to understand the structure of the tooth.

Yes a chipped tooth can easily become infected over time if the nerve or pulp has been exposed. Bacteria in the mouth can easily leak through cracked portions of the tooth leading to infection and inflammation. There is a chance  of a chipped tooth becoming infected even if only the outermost layer, enamel is involved. So get it checked by a professional. We are a phone call away from you.

More often than not patients would leave a chipped tooth untreated if its a minor one, does not hurt at all and it’s a back tooth that doesn’t serve any aesthetics functions. This kind of chip might make getting immediate Dental treatment not an emergency. but it doesn’t mean it should permanently be ignored. because a tooth does not hurt does not mean everything is fine so it is always best to seek professional advice. Book an appointment with our Dentist or visit our office on 6434 highway 6 N to evaluate the degree of damage by X-ray and exam just to be double sure. It should also be noted that the uneven surface of the tooth caused by the chip might make that area harbors bacteria and may be hard to clean. Such areas are susceptible to decay and possibly bad breath. Jagged/ rough edges on a tooth have been known to often work like a knife and could easily lead to you cutting yourself.

$125 Chipped Tooth Fix ?
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During your consultation, you will receive a free Dental Exam and Consultation By one of Our Cosmetic Dentist who will assess the chip and also discuss your treatment plan with you. what options you have to fix your chipped tooth. You will also receive a free intra oral X-ray scan of the chipped teeth.

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