In Houston and Memorial City, Texas

Chipping is one of the most common minor problems that affects teeth. 

The enamel coating on the outside of each tooth protects it from bacteria, acids, and more.  A heavy blow to the teeth or excessive wear and tear can break the enamel, resulting in a chip with a jagged and sometimes sharp edge.

All dental chips need checking by a dentist and may need treatment. Some minor chips may not need treatment, but only the dentist can determine that. 

A number of treatments are used to deal with chipped teeth, including smoothing, filling, and more advanced improvements like bonding and veneers. 

Read on to get the facts about fixing chipped teeth.

What Causes Chipped Teeth?

Small chip in top incisor tooth

Tooth grinding is one of the top causes of chipped teeth. The damage often occurs at night when you may not even notice it until days later when you run your tongue along your teeth.

Other common causes include accidents, falls, and contact sports. Even solo activities like hiking or climbing could put your teeth at risk for chips.

Wearing a mouth guard will prevent most problems during contact sports, but chipping can always occur if you don’t have a custom-fit guard or you take a direct hit.

Chewing on the wrong food or materials will also put your enamel at risk for chipping. It’s one of the strongest materials in the body, but it can still end up chipped by habits like chewing on pen tops, crunching on ice, or by foods like sticky toffee or hard bread crusts.

Teeth already weakened by regular eating of acidic and sugary foods are also at higher risk for chipping. Filled cavities may increase the risk of chipping as well.

Dentists report that tooth chipping is more common in people over 50 due to the wear and tear of years of chewing.

Disorders that lead to repeated vomiting can also weaken the enamel and increase the chances of chipping.

Deeper cracking or fracturing may occur along with the chipping regardless of the cause. That’s the biggest reason you need a dentist to check the tooth even if the damage seems to stay on the surface level.

Which Teeth Are More Likely to Chip?

A chip can occur on any tooth. Front teeth are most susceptible to accidents like chips from glass bottles or car collisions. Damage from chewing occurs more in the second lower molars because of the forces applied to their edges.

Any tooth with a filling or other form of damage is also at higher risk of chipping.

Symptoms of a Chipped Tooth

Not every chipped or fractured tooth shows visible signs of damage. Instead, you might just feel a rough or jagged surface with your tongue. You may notice your teeth fit a little differently where they meet or feel irritation from where your tongue is rubbing against a sharp edge of the tooth. 

If you feel an increased pressure in a tooth when biting, definitely have it checked for chips and fractures. Further damage can occur unless the dentist gets a chance to address the problem. 

With severe chipping, you may feel immediate pain if the nerves in the crown become exposed.

Do You Need to Treat a Chipped Tooth?

You should always seek treatment after detecting or even suspecting a chipped tooth. Only a dentist can decide if you need treatment or not. 

It could only be a minor issue that affects the aesthetics of your smile. Or the problem could go a lot deeper and threaten the health of the roots of the tooth. 

Chips may not create any immediate symptoms or issues and waiting until there’s pain or instability may result in the need for more extensive dental work. 

Chipped teeth can become infected or fractured in a way that exposes the nerves, leading to their eventual loss.

Treatment Options for Chipped Teeth

The right treatment for a chipped tooth depends on its location and visibility, the severity of the chip, and what symptoms you’re experiencing. Your budget and desire for cosmetic improvement may also affect which treatment you choose.

For a minor chip, smoothing and polishing might be enough to resolve the chip. Other repair options include:

Reattach the Chipped Tooth

If you still have the part of the tooth that chipped or broke off, bring it along with you to the dentist’s office. Keeping it in a glass of milk or tucked between the lip and gum tissue will keep it in good shape until you make it to the emergency dentist. 

You can put dental wax or even sugar free gum over the chipped edge of the tooth to protect your tongue and cheek from damage.

Dental Bonding

Dental bonding is one of the fastest ways to disguise a chip that isn’t serious but does affect the appearance of your smile. A few layers of composite resin are added to the tooth to fill in the gap left by the chip. An ultraviolet light quickly cures the material and bonds it to the natural tooth surface. 

Bonding is quick, inexpensive, and lasts around a decade before needing a touch-up. However, it can’t repair deeper damage or stabilize a tooth.

Learn more about dental bonding.

Dental Veneers

Fill in larger gaps that still aren’t serious fractures with veneers. These thin shells made of porcelain or composite resin sit over the teeth to give each one a perfect look. Veneers cover chips but can’t fix fractures. 

They’re long lasting and work great for the most visible teeth in the mouth, but aren’t widely installed on molars or other less-visible teeth.

Learn more about getting veneers.


Similar to a veneer, the onlay is set into the surface of the tooth and adds a little more stability to the structure. Onlays are a good choice for molars with more significant chips that still don’t require root canal treatment. 

The onlay covers the chip and restores the surface so it doesn’t become damaged in the future. 

This method is affordable and quick, but it has a limited lifespan. A more significant chip may require a crown.

Root Canal

For the most serious chips and fractures that reach the root, a root canal is likely needed. 

This involves removing material from the middle of the tooth so it can be stabilized. A root canal removes any infected material and stops bacteria from spreading while saving the original tooth. Most chipped teeth don’t require this level of treatment.

Learn more about root canal treatment.

Why Bunker Hill Dentistry?
Dr. Le and Ann Le
Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le
SpecialistsDr. Le and our experienced team can resolve chipped teeth with an effective solution that is best-suited for your condition.

Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour.

 Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience”is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry.

Bunker Hill Dentistry Lobby View
Reception room at Bunker Hill Dentistry
State of the art – We utilize other advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment.

 Conveniently located – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map.

Is Treatment Permanent?

Bonding, veneers, and the other treatments for chipped teeth all have a limited life span. Life spans will vary due to several factors, but some average times until  replacement is needed are below:

  • Bonding: 5 to 10 years
  • Veneers: 5 to 15 years
  • Onlays: Around 10 years
  • Crowns: 5 to 15 years
  • Root Canals: Usually for life

Getting Chipped Teeth Repaired at Bunker Hill Dentistry

Bunker Hill Dentistry is the right place to turn for help with chipped teeth in the Houston, TX area. We can help you with emergency treatment or deal with tooth chips that occurred years ago and are giving you trouble now. 

Don’t delay even if you think the damage is minor or mostly cosmetic.

Schedule An Appointment

Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? Read how to prepare for your first visit in our FAQs.