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School Sports & Smiles: What to Do About a Chipped Tooth

According to the National Youth Sports Safety Foundation, roughly 3 million teeth are knocked out or damaged during sporting events every year. 

With the fall school semester right around the corner, it’s worth looking into the causes of chipped teeth and what to do if your child chips a tooth — even if they won’t necessarily be involved in sports right away.

If your child does chip a tooth, the caring McAllen family dentist at WhiteWing Dental can help you address the issue and keep your child smiling brightly for the rest of the year.

What Happens When You Chip a Tooth?

A chip usually occurs when a person damages the enamel exterior of a tooth. Because enamel doesn’t contain any blood vessels or nerves, most chips may not actually be painful. 

However, the accident that caused the chip may hurt. In worst-case scenarios, it is possible to chip a tooth so badly that nerve endings are exposed. This can lead to pain, sensitivity to temperatures, and infections. 

Chips are usually caused by trauma to the face, biting down on something hard, poor dental care, cavities, or teeth grinding.

What to Do About a Chipped Tooth

There are a few steps you should take if you or your little one suffer a chipped tooth accident. These can help to ensure that the tooth isn’t further damaged. 

  1. Gather any pieces of the tooth that were damaged, and place them in a dry, clean container to take with you to the dentist.
  2. Using warm water, rinse the injured tooth to remove any debris.
  3. If the chip is the result of trauma to the face, use ice or a cold compress to reduce or prevent any swelling.
  4. Schedule an appointment with your McAllen family dentist. If yellow dentin or red pulp is exposed, see your dentist immediately.
  5. Avoid hard foods that could further damage the tooth.
  6. If the chip resulted in sharp edges, cover the broken tooth with gum or dental wax to protect gums.
  7. Chips could occur in conjunction with a broken jaw. If your child is having trouble closing their mouth fully or bringing their upper and lower teeth together, see a dentist immediately or go to an emergency room.

After you’ve followed the instructions listed above, the next steps will depend on what your dentist says. 

The process of repairing the damaged tooth depends on the extent of the damage. If the tooth is broken badly enough, your dentist may need to remove and replace the tooth with a plastic filling using a root canal. It may also be necessary to use a temporary crown until your dentist can determine if the broken tooth has become infected. If the damage isn’t too severe, your dentist may be able to repair the tooth without replacing it or using any crowns.

Be sure to care for a broken or repaired tooth as diligently as you do the rest of your child’s teeth. Regular brushing and flossing is a must, though you may wish to take particular care. 

And make sure to always be gentle with a damaged tooth.

What Can I Do to Protect My Child?

While many children accidentally chip their teeth because of sporting accidents, there are precautions you can take to reduce the likelihood that a chip will happen. 

The first step is maintaining proper oral healthcare. Regular brushing, flossing, and checkups can help ensure that your child’s teeth are healthy and strong, making chips less likely to occur.

The next thing to remember is the importance of mouthguards. 

From gymnastics to football, any physical sport can result in facial trauma that may chip your child’s teeth. Mouthguards can help reduce the likelihood that an accident will result in a chipped tooth or other oral injuries (though accidents may still occur). 

Mouthguards are most effective when they are customized to your child’s mouth. It’s especially important to wear a mouthguard in sports such as skating, boxing or martial arts, “ball and stick” games, football, and basketball. 

These sports are the most likely to lead to chipped teeth or other dental injuries.

WhiteWing Dental: Your McAllen Family Dentist

If your child has experienced any sort of trauma to their face or mouth, it’s possible that their teeth may have been damaged. 

If you’re worried that your child may have chipped or broken a tooth, your McAllen family dentists at WhiteWing Dental can examine your child’s teeth for damage and address any issues we find. Our dedicated care will have your child smiling and back on the field in no time!


If your child chipped a tooth while playing sports or in a simple accident, contact WhiteWing Dental today at (956) 686-5577 to help your child get back to having fun!

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