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Why Are My Teeth Chipping Easily?

Our teeth are incredibly strong, but they aren't invincible. While teeth chipping easily can be quite alarming, this common dental problem can be remediated with some simple lifestyle changes and a fairly routine visit to your dentist. 

Chipped teeth are more than just a cosmetic issue, they impact your oral health significantly. When a tooth chips it can leave the tooth exposed and vulnerable, leading to sensitivity when consuming hot or cold beverages, pain while eating, or infection. Additionally, any sharp edges could cause injury to the mouth or tongue. Addressing the problem as soon as possible will prevent further complications.

What Causes Chipped Teeth?

"Why are my teeth chipping" is a common question dentists hear and the fact is, some people may find their teeth chip more easily than others. Sometimes, it's very clear why a tooth has chipped. A fall, collision, or sports injury can result in a damaged tooth. Even something as innocent as biting down on hard candy or ice can cause cracks.

When there's no distinct cause of the damage, the problem often lies in the enamel's weakness. Enamel, which is the hardest substance in our bodies and the protective outer layer of our teeth, enables us to consume a wide array of food, from hot soup to peanut brittle. However, anything that compromises the enamel, either momentarily or over time, can lead to potential chipping, cracking, or fracturing of the teeth.

A regular lack of good oral hygiene is a typical cause of unexplained tooth chipping. Cavities and decay weaken enamel and compromise the tooth’s structural integrity, often going unnoticed until a sudden chip occurs.

To minimize the risk of chipping your teeth, it's advised to brush for two minutes twice a day. Opt for non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste and a small, soft toothbrush to prevent enamel damage. Additionally, flossing before bedtime and using an alcohol-free fluoride mouthwash in addition to brushing can help ward off decay.

Acidic foods can also inflict damage to enamel. Some examples include:

  • Juices
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Honey
  • Alcohol

A condition known as xerostomia, also referred to as dry mouth, can increase the occurrence of chipped teeth. When saliva flow in your mouth decreases, the enamel crystal dries up, becoming more fragile.

Age can act as another factor weakening and thinning the enamel. Beyond the age of 50, enamel is more prone to develop cracks. As we age, we may also face bruxism or grinding of teeth, which erodes the teeth and results in cracks. If we lose teeth over time, the rest of the teeth might endure more pressure during chewing, leading to increased wear and tear, which can cause chips and cracks.

Aside from weakened enamel, there are several other easy ways to chip your teeth:

  • Grinding or clenching (Bruxism) - This often occurs during sleep and puts massive pressure on your teeth, contributing to chipping.
  • Consuming hard foods - Regularly eating hard foods like ice or hard candy can result in chipped teeth.
  • Acid Reflux disease - Stomach acid regurgitation during acid reflux can erode enamel, weakening teeth.
  • Use of teeth as tools - Using your teeth to open packages or cut thread, for instance, can cause them to chip.

Impact of Tooth Chipping on Oral Health

Ignoring a chipped tooth can lead to further dental problems and more invasive and expensive procedures. Ignoring dental hygiene and chipped teeth can lead to: 

  • Risk of further damage, leading to larger fractures or even tooth loss
  • Increased possibility of tooth decay and cavities as the protective enamel layer is compromised
  • Increase in gum irritation, leading to periodontal disease
  • Painful infections due to bacteria entering an exposed part of the tooth

Prevention and Treatment Options for Chipped Teeth

Prevention strategies are somewhat routine. Regular dental check-ups can help detect early signs of weakening enamel, while proper brushing and flossing techniques can help maintain strong and healthy enamel. For those suffering from Bruxism, using a mouthguard to protect teeth during sleep is recommended. Finally, dietary changes like avoiding hard foods and acidic drinks can help you avoid easily chipping teeth.

Treatment options will always depend on the severity of the break. A dentist will typically choose one of the following options to repair a chipped tooth:

  • Bonding - A composite resin is used to cover the broken edge and restore the tooth’s original shape.
  • Veneers - A thin layer of porcelain is placed over the chipped area to repair it.
  • Crowns - If the fracture is too large, it may be necessary to cover the entire tooth with a dental crown.

Dental Care in Little River, SC

Dr. Tripp Davis and the Carolina Family Dental team offer elite care and Southern hospitality during every dental consultation, exam, and treatment. Schedule an appointment to transform your smile!