Is a Chipped Tooth a Dental Emergency?

Chipped Tooth Bakersfield, CA

A chipped tooth can be a painful and frustrating dental injury. Some cases are minor and others are severe, but all require an evaluation by a dentist for repair and the prevention of complications down the road. Because a chipped tooth can cause serious health concerns in some patients, it should be treated as a dental emergency. Patients should try to see a dentist within 24 hours of the time of the injury.

Dental complications caused by a chipped tooth

Damaged teeth can be unsightly and many patients are embarrassed by the visible results of a chipped tooth. While the appearance of a person's smile is a good reason to seek prompt treatment, other potential health complications also warrant an immediate evaluation by a dentist.


Normally, it can take a long time for chronic plaque and bacteria to wear down tooth enamel and cause cavities. However, a chip creates an immediate gap in this protective coating, which allows bacteria to make their way inside the tooth at a much faster rate. Cavities can develop quickly and the risk remains higher until the damage is repaired.


The damage to tooth enamel caused by a chip means a dental infection could develop. The signs of an infection in the mouth include:

  • Pain
  • Inflammation
  • Oozing or presence of pus
  • Fever
  • Feelings of malaise

This can quickly escalate into a dangerous situation that could lead to serious illness in the patient. Potential infection is one of the most important reasons why patients should seek emergency dental care for a chipped tooth.

Tooth loss

When it comes to repairing and saving an injured tooth, time is of the essence. The faster a patient is seen for treatment, the greater the chance that the tooth can be repaired. However, waiting for too long could cause the softer tissues inside the tooth to become severely infected or permanently damaged. This means the tooth will need likely need to be extracted and replaced entirely.

Treatment options for a chipped tooth

There are many options for repairing a damaged tooth, depending on the patient's needs, preferences, and the extent of the damage. Most chips can be repaired with dental crowns or veneers. Both involve a porcelain or ceramic tooth covering that is permanently mounted in place over the damaged tooth. Typically, veneers are used for front teeth while crowns are used for teeth toward the back of the mouth.

If the chipped tooth cannot be repaired or poses too high a risk for infection, the entire tooth may be extracted. Dentists can use bridges or dental implants to replace the missing tooth. Bridges are less invasive but have a less natural appearance and a shorter life span than implants. If patients are able to tolerate the surgery involved with an implant, this option offers realistic results that are designed to last a lifetime.


A chipped tooth should be treated as a serious dental injury. Patients should seek emergency dental care right away to avoid severe and unnecessary complications. Dentists can offer a variety of treatment options to repair the damage and restore a person's smile.

Request an appointment here: or call Brimhall Dental Group at (661) 249-1122 for an appointment in our Bakersfield office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Chipped Tooth in Bakersfield, CA.

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