Repairing a Chipped or Broken Tooth
Dental Cap or Crown continued...
Getting a crown usually takes two visits to the dentist’s office. During the first visit your dentist may take X-rays to check the roots of the tooth and surrounding bone. If no further problems are detected, the dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding gum and then remove enough of the remaining tooth to make room for a crown. If a break or chip has left a large piece of the tooth missing, your dentist can use a filling material to build up the tooth to hold the crown. Next, your dentist will use a putty-like material to make an impression of the tooth receiving the crown as well as the opposing tooth (the one it will touch when you bite down). The impressions are sent to a lab where the crown is made. In the meantime, your dentist may place a temporary crown made of acrylic or thin metal.
During the second visit, typically two to three weeks later, your dentist will remove the temporary crown and check the fit of the permanent one before permanently cementing it in place.
If a front tooth is broken or chipped, a dental veneer can make it look whole and healthy again. A dental veneer is a thin shell of tooth-colored porcelain or resin composite material that covers the whole front of the tooth (much like a false nail covers a fingernail) with a thicker section to replace the broken part of the tooth.
To prepare your tooth, your dentist will remove from about 0.3 to 1.2 millimeters of enamel from its surface. Next the dentist will make an impression of the tooth to be sent to a dental laboratory, which will make the veneer. When the veneer is ready, usually a week or two later, you'll need to go back to the dentist to have it placed. To place the veneer, your dentist will first etch the surface of the tooth with a liquid to roughen it. The dentist then applies a special cement to the veneer and places the veneer on the prepared tooth. Once the veneer is in position, your dentist will use a special light to activate chemicals in the cements to make it harden quickly.
If a tooth chip or break is large enough to expose the pulp -- the center of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels -- bacteria from the mouth can enter and infect the pulp. If your tooth hurts, changes color, or is sensitive to heat, the pulp is probably damaged or diseased. Pulp tissue can die and if it's not removed, the tooth can get infected and need to be extracted. Root Canal therapy involves removing the dead pulp, cleaning the root canal, and then sealing it.
Root canals may be performed by general dentists or specialists called endodontists. Most root canals are no more painful than having a cavity filled. In most cases, the remaining tooth must be covered with a crown to protect this now weakened tooth.