Leaving a chipped tooth untreated can have serious consequences for your oral health. Without professional treatment, a broken tooth is susceptible to an infection that only worsens over time. This infection can spread to the neck and head, causing all kinds of health problems. Although rare, a chipped tooth may be life-threatening.
One of the most worrying consequences of an untreated chipped tooth is infection. Because the tooth is more exposed, bacteria can easily enter and cause an infection. The infection can cause toothache and even root canals or tooth extractions. If only a small portion of the tooth enamel has come off, the dentist can repair the damage with a filling.
If the repair is on a front tooth or can be seen when smiling, the dentist will likely use a procedure called bonding, which uses a composite resin the color of the tooth. When a tooth is chipped, part of the tooth enamel breaks down. If it's a minor chip, you may be lucky and don't have any dentin in the middle layer of the tooth exposed, and you may not feel any pain. But you'll probably notice a sharp edge on the tooth. Without professional treatment, a broken tooth is susceptible to infection that will only worsen over time. The best first step you can take is to visit your dentist.
Once a tooth has chipped or cracked, it loses its strength, affecting the integrity of the tooth, weakening it and tending to suffer further damage. Many complications of having a damaged tooth can be avoided through early diagnosis and proper treatment. If a large piece of tooth breaks or the tooth has a lot of cavities, the dentist can grind or file part of the remaining tooth and cover it with a crown, or a tooth-shaped cap, made to protect the tooth and improve its appearance. 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 you have a tooth extraction, your provider will likely recommend an implant that looks and works like a natural tooth.
If your tooth has a small splinter and an irregular edge, you can apply dental wax over the edge to prevent cutting your tongue or damaging your mouth. If you let your chipped teeth go through without any treatment for more than two weeks, the nerve in the tooth may die and an infection could develop in or around the mouth. Falling, getting hit in the face, or biting something hard, especially if a tooth already has a cavity, can cause a tooth to chip or break. Even if you don't feel pain, a chipped tooth is more exposed to bacteria and risks infection or decay if left untreated. If a splinter or broken tooth is large enough to expose the pulp (the center of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels), bacteria from the mouth can enter and infect the pulp. If your tooth breaks completely, you'll need to restore it, which may be a more extensive treatment than simply fixing a chipped tooth.
In cases with extreme pulp or root damage, extraction may be necessary and the dentist will replace the missing tooth with an implant or bridge. For some, a chipped tooth is simply an aesthetic concern that only affects their smile's appearance and needs no treatment. Here's how not seeking proper treatment for a chipped tooth will hinder your oral health: if it hurts, changes color, or becomes sensitive to heat, then its pulp could be seriously damaged; plus chipped teeth are at risk of bacteria infecting them through their exposed damaged area.