A Look at the Dental Problems Caused by a Chipped Tooth

To some, a chipped tooth is simply a cosmetic concern that only affects the look of their smile, and therefore doesn’t need to be treated. But, this is not actually the case.

A chipped tooth can cause numerous problems if not addressed. From cuts on the tongue to tooth loss, these problems are best avoided altogether by visiting your dentist the moment you notice a chip, even a minor one.

Here’s a look at the dental problems that often arise with chipped teeth and why you should avoid them by repairing your chipped tooth as soon as possible.


Though kids are more likely to experience chipped teeth due to their higher level of activity, chipped teeth can happen to people of all ages due to:

  • Biting hard food or objects, like ice cubes or pens
  • Falls that land with your mouth hitting a hard surface
  • Blows to the mouth from a hard object, like a basketball
  • Teeth grinding at night—aka bruxism, which weakens and fractures teeth over time
  • Tooth decay—cavities (holes) that weaken the structure of a tooth
  • Large amalgam (silver) fillings that don’t support the remaining enamel of the tooth


When you chip a tooth, a piece of the tooth enamel breaks off. If it is a minor chip, you might be lucky and not have any dentin—the middle layer of the tooth—exposed, and you may not experience any pain. But you will likely notice a sharp edge on the tooth.

If a large piece of the tooth enamel breaks off, the dentin will likely be exposed, and your tooth will feel sensitive. Or you will feel tooth pain if the nerves are damaged due to a large break.

Even if you don’t feel pain, a chipped tooth is more exposed to bacteria and at risk of infection or decay if left untreated.


Yes, you should visit your dentist to repair a chipped tooth as soon as possible. Though it might seem minor and painless, a chipped tooth is weaker and at a high risk of experiencing more chips or breaking.

Too much structure loss may lead to the loss of a tooth. And chipped teeth are at risk of bacteria infecting the teeth through the exposed damaged area of the tooth.

With larger chips that reach the interior of the tooth, the pulp—the living part of the tooth made of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves—can become damaged, quickly infected, and start to die. So it’s important to repair a fixed tooth, even a minor chip, to prevent further damage and avoid tooth loss.


Aside from looking funny, other consequences of leaving a chipped tooth untreated include:

Cuts in the Mouth

The sharp edges of a chipped tooth can cut you cheek, tongue, or gums, making for painful wounds in your mouth that could make talking and eating uncomfortable.

Tooth Sensitivity

A chipped tooth can cause tooth decay, which will end up causing tooth sensitivity. Also, a piece of protective enamel will be missing, exposing the inner tooth nerves and making the tooth sensitive to pressure, and hot, cold, sweet, and acidic food and drinks.

Broken Tooth

A chipped tooth can easily become a broken tooth since the fracture weakens it. So if you chew something hard, your chipped tooth will be at greater risk of breaking. And if it breaks, it will require more extensive treatments for restoring the tooth than simply fixing a chipped tooth.


Deep chips can cause bacteria to enter the tooth, leading to damage, infections, and abscesses in the pulp and root, painful toothaches, and potentially requiring root canals or extractions.


In most cases, your dentist will file or polish the chipped tooth to smooth the rough edges. They may also use dental bonding made of composite resins to fill the chip or rebuild the tooth. This dental bonding is strong and tooth-coloured, so it will match your tooth and restore your tooth’s appearance and function.

For more severe chips, your dentist may restore the tooth with a crown, onlay, or veneer to protect the tooth from infections. And for chipped teeth with damaged pulp or roots, your dentist may need to perform a root canal before placing a crown on the tooth. A root canal treatment removes the infected or damaged tissue.

In cases with extreme damage to the pulp or root, tooth extraction might be necessary, and your dentist will replace the missing tooth with a dental implant or bridge.

Chipped teeth are fairly easy to repair. So don’t avoid the dentist and leave a chipped tooth untreated. Or you’ll risk experiencing worse dental problems that are more likely to arise if you ignore a chipped tooth.

A minor chip today could lead to a severe break and infection sooner than later. So visit your dentist as soon as possible to prevent serious dental problems that are caused by chipped teeth.