If you have a jagged tooth that's scratching your mouth or you find yourself giggling behind one hand to hide it, don't worry. Whether your tooth is naturally jagged, chipped or broken, your dentist has many ways to make it straight and even again. Reshaping, bonding, applying veneers and extraction followed by replacement are some treatments available for jagged teeth.
Natural Teeth Shape
Not all of us are blessed with a neat, even line of pearly whites. Teeth can grow in unevenly, and some of them, like canines, can be pointed and protruding. Anyone can have uneven teeth, but in rare cases they're caused by extra cusps (the pointed parts of the teeth). These bony spikes growing out of a tooth are called talon cusps for their resemblance to an eagle's talons, according to an article in the Journal of Dental Research, Dental Clinics, Dental Prospects. Talon cusps can be removed by grinding down or removing a section of enamel and sealing the tooth with a desensitizing agent. Naturally crooked or pointed teeth can also sometimes benefit from orthodontic treatment.
Broken and Chipped Teeth
Breaking or chipping a tooth leaves it looking jagged, and if the tooth nerve is exposed, the chip be very painful. A fall, being hit in the mouth or biting something hard can all result in broken or chipped teeth, but teeth also break when they're weakened by cavities or large, old fillings. You should see your dentist right away to prevent nerve damage if a broken tooth becomes painful.
Jagged Teeth Treatments
The simplest treatment for a jagged line of teeth involves shaping the existing tooth enamel for a more even appearance. Smoothing irregularly shaped tooth enamel is called contouring. The procedure involves gently grinding away a small portion of the tooth enamel. It's a conservative cosmetic dentistry treatment and usually doesn't even require anesthesia.
Alternatively, if your tooth has been chipped, your dentist might suggest bonding, where a small amount of dental resin is added to the tooth to replace the missing part. The resin is dyed to match the original tooth so that it isn't noticeable. However, bonded teeth can sometimes become discolored over time.
A third option is a veneer. These thin porcelain shells that fit over the entire tooth above the gumline come in two kinds: traditional and minimally invasive. Fitting traditional veneers involves removing some tooth enamel, and it's an irreversible procedure. Minimally invasive veneers are now available that are so thin the tooth structure can be left intact.
Occasionally, the damage to a tooth that made it jagged in the first place is so severe a repair isn't possible, the American College of Prosthodontists explains. The best treatment in these cases is to extract the tooth and replace it with a dental implant, partial denture or bridge. The recovery time from other procedures to fix a jagged tooth is minimal, but if the tooth must be extracted, the patient must return for one or more visits. Replacing the tooth with a natural-looking prosthetic can take several months.
Jagged teeth don't have to be embarrassing or painful. Your dentist can even them out or replace a missing part, and instruct you on proper care and brushing if you decide to leave your smile the way it is. If you have a jagged tooth, visit your dentist and find out what treatment is the best option for you.