Signs Your Chipped Tooth Can't Wait Until Morning

Chipped teeth are pretty common. Some chips are tiny and can be dealt with at your convenience, a few days or even weeks after the fact when your dentist can fit you in. Other chips are more serious and may actually constitute a trip to the emergency dentist. How do you know the difference? Well, if any of the following situations apply, you should seek emergency dental services rather than waiting for care.

The chip is a good portion of your tooth

It's hard to say exactly what the dividing line is between a chip that's small enough to wait and one that needs emergency care. But if you look at the chip and it appears to be too large for a dentist to simply file away, that's a sign that it's big enough to warrant emergency care. Another guideline to consider is whether you have the part of the tooth that chipped off. If you have the chipped-off part in-hand, it may be able to be re-attached to the rest of your tooth. As this will need to be done quickly, you are best off visiting an emergency dentist. (Keep the fallen portion tooth in milk until you arrive at the dental office.)

You're in pain

If you don't feel any pain associated with the chip, then it probably did not extend through the enamel, which is the outermost layer of your tooth. This means it can likely wait a little while for care. On the other hand, if the chipped tooth is painful, this means the chip involved the deeper layers of the tooth, such as the dentin. Chips of this size need to be treated more quickly both because they are painful and because they put you at risk for bigger problems, like decay and infection.

You're bleeding

Sometimes, a chip will extend all the way up to the gums. Or, you may experience some damage to the gums at the same time you chip the tooth. In either case, you may find that you bleed. This is a sign you could benefit from emergency dental care. The dentist will stop the bleeding and make sure that any soft tissue damage is treated, along with the chip.

Keep in mind that the guidelines above are just guidelines. If in doubt, head to the emergency dentist. It is better to find out you were overly proactive than to wait to treat a chip that could have benefited from emergency care.