Options for Chipped Front Tooth Restoration

The bottom half of my front tooth was chipped. I want to know what my options are, and how long on average will this restoration last? Since I am only 20, how many times will I need to replace it during my life? If I place a porcelain veneer on the tooth, and it eventually needs a root canal, will the veneer need to be replaced with a crown?

Doctor Answers 17

How to Repair a Chipped Front Tooth

This is a GREAT question. There are many factors that should be considered when choosing how to repair your fractured tooth. You said "half" of your front tooth is fractured. That's a lot of tooth structure to repair with a conservative restoration like bonding. Bonding is the least expensive option but also does not last as long and wth half the tooth needing replacement will probably not last more than a few years. Another option is a porcelain veneer which is more expensive but also more "permanent." It should last substantially longer but if the tooth ends up needing a root canal the tooth will likely change color which would also affect the color of the veneer. A front tooth with a root canal is also not adequately protected with a veneer and would likely need a crown.

If you were my family member at age 20 I would probably do a conservative bonding and allow the tooth and gums around the tooth to completely mature. I would not want to further traumatize the tooth right away by doing more invasive procedures like a veneer or crown.  This will help prevent the need for a root canal later.

Then in a few years I would do a more permanent retoration which would more than likely be an all-ceramic crown rather than a veneer because with half the tooth missing I would be conserned about long-term retention of the restoration.

Your dentist's biggest challenge will be matching a single front tooth color, shape and consistency with the adjacent teeth...NOT an easy thing to do.

Good luck, hope this helps. 

Veneer vs. Bonding

Great question and I understand your concern since its a front tooth! With half the tooth missing, bonding is an option with the understanding that there is an increased risk of having it fracture and requiring maintenance and upkeep occasionally. Very large bondings may chip and discolor. A veneer is definitely the stronger long term option. If a root canal is needed your dentist would have to evaluate to make sure the tooth itself has not changed color and that a veneer has adequate coverage. If not, a crown may be necessary. Since you are so young, it is not unreasonable to start with the bonding for now and think about the porcelain restoration at some point in the future. The bonding is also the less expensive of the two options. Best of luck and follow up for more info!

Chipped front tooth

If you've chipped half the tooth off, bonding may not hold up that well, but you could try it first if you want to be as conservative as possible. You just may not be able to achieve as great aesthetics as you could with a veneer.
A veneer will look the best and it's still reasonably conservative. You shouldn't need to replace it for many years and you can get  a root canal through the back of the tooth without affecting the front

Anjali Rajpal, DMD
Beverly Hills Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Options for Chipped Front Tooth Restoration

What are the options for fixing chipped front teeth. Definitely there are multiple options but it depends on the severity of the fracture.If it’s a small chip then definitely a direct bonded composite can be used. But that will have to be replaced more often as the composite of resin starts to stain. The more lifelike and longer lasting alternative would certainly be porcelain veneer, which is placed over the tooth to restore it to full size and beauty. If the tooth should ever need a root canal, the root canal can actually be done without hurting the porcelain veneer. If the fracture of the tooth initially is very severe then definitely a crown would be more appropriate. It all depends on the extent of the fracture and should be evaluated by your dentist.

Amanda Canto, DDS
Houston Dentist

Chipped Tooth Restoration Options

A chipped tooth can often times be repaired with simple bonding. If the tooth does not have any decay or pulpal involvement (needing root canal treatment), the tooth can be cosmetically and conservatively treated with composite resin (white filling) bonding. This is the treatment I often recommend to my younger patients who need less invasive treatment. This type of restoration is less aggressive and does not require much removing of tooth structure. However, if your tooth is further compromised, you may be better served with a Porcelain Veneer. A porcelain veneer is also a less aggressive restoration which involves reducing about 0.5 mm of tooth structure from the front surface of the tooth. Your best bet is to do the most conservative treatment option given to you by your dentist. Since you are a young patient, it is important that you preserve as much tooth structure as possible. Good luck!

Parnaz Aurasteh, DDS
Beverly Hills Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Best way to restore a chipped front tooth

Your options are composite bonding, porcelain veneer or porcelain crown.  Since you said that half of the tooth has broken off, then I would lean heavily in favor of the porcelain veneer or porcelain crown.

With regard to root canal, because so much of the tooth has been fractured off, a root canal may be necessary, either soon or years down the road.  For a better prognosis I suggest you consult with an endodontist who can test your tooth for vitality (being alive or dead) and give you his opinion on whether a root canal should be done first, or to wait to make the decision if and when future symptoms appear down the road.

No one can predict how long a porcelain veneer or porcelain crown will last you.  It depends on the type of crown or veneer used, whether or not you have any more trauma to the tooth (a fall or blow to the tooth), your bite (i.e. do you grind or clench your teeth together).  And believe it or not, it also depends on how good your dentist is! 

Crowns and porcelain veneers can last a lifetime, and that is the goal of most cosmetic dentists.  However there is too much out of the dentists control to promise that it would last that long.  I've done crowns and porcelain veneers that I placed 25 years ago and are still in doing well today.  (Porcelain veneers were introduced to dentistry around 1985).  I've also had patients come in to me to replace crowns or veneers that were done only five years earlier.  Unfortunately, no dentist can give you an accurate estimate as to how long the porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns will last, but properly done, they will usually last a long, LONG time!

Norman Huefner, DDS
Laguna Niguel Dentist

Options for Chipped Front Tooth

If the chip is small you can fix it with composite/bonding. A highly talented dentist can make this look very natural. The drawback is that this restoration may chip or stain over time. It will last on average 7-10 years.

A porcelain veneer is a good option if the chip is larger. This will last 10-15 years on average. If the tooth needs a root canal, the veneer does not need to be removed. The root canal can be performed through the backside of the tooth. 

A crown would only need to be placed if there was severe discoloration of the tooth or if the tooth was weakened due to decay or more trauma.

Doing a single veneer or single crown on a front tooth and matching it to the adjacent teeth is the toughest case for a cosmetic dentist.

Sylvan Fain, DDS
Miami Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Porcelain Veneer For Chipped Front Tooth

Based on the amount of tooth that is missing I would recommend that you have a porcelain veneer placed.  This will be the most durable and the most aesthetic. Composite bonding may be a viable option, but will not last as long as a veneer.  If the tooth should ever need a root canal they should be able to complete it without ever touching your porcelain veneer.  Hope this helps. 

Chipped teeth fixed with composite or porcelain veneer

A composite restoration will work in a pinch but must be considered a temporary solution. A porcelain veneer will last much longer an can be nearly as conservative as a composite, as many "no prep" solutions are out there. If a root canal is needed, it may be possible to not destroy the veneer. At age 20, you should be prepared to replace the restoration a few times in your life.

You have options

Since you are 20 yrs of age, I would consider both composite bonding and a porcelain veneer.  Of course, any qualified cosmetic dentist would need to see your tooth, take appropriate xrays, and consult with you on you level of esthetic needs. In most cases im my office, like yours, I would use composite bonding 1st, even if its just temporary. 

Bottom line is you will have some options on treatment and I would recommend you finding a trusted cosmetic dentist.  The restorations will need to be replaced after 7-10 years (bonding) and maybe 10-15 years with porcelain.  Some porcelain restorations can last much longer - and in some cases can last 30+ years.  Each case is special and needs a personal consultation.  Best of luck.

Greg Lutke, DDS
Plano Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.