Most people have two permanent molars in each quadrant of their mouth. These molars play an important role in chewing as their broad, cusped surfaces are great at grinding down food to a safe size for swallowing.
A chipped molar can interfere with the grinding and create a hard-to-reach area during your oral healthcare routine, which can in turn lead to bacterial buildups and infections.
If you have a chipped molar, there are a couple of different treatment routes your dentist can take. While the exact route will be customized to your situation, the general approaches tend to change based on the level of damage to the tooth's surface and its root canal system.
Significant chips on a molar will need to be covered with a dental crown. A crown is a hollow tooth shell that's lab-crafted to fit down over your existing tooth. Bonding cement is used to make sure the crown doesn't budge.
Molars take on quite a bit of bite force while repeatedly grinding your food. So your dentist will want to install the sturdiest crown possible. An all-metal crown is least likely to chip over time, but it won't look natural. However, the molar is so far back in your mouth that the metal likely won't be visible to others.
An alternative to all-metal is a metal-backed porcelain crown. The crown still has the strength of the metal but an overlay of tooth-colored porcelain gives the tooth a more natural look.
Note that if you have root canal damage, your dentist will need to fix that problem before placing the dental crown. The natural tooth will be opened so your dentist can clean out the damaged pulp from the canal and then seal the canal shut.
Extraction and Dental Replacement
Unfortunately, a large chipped section can cause so much damage that the tooth is no longer viable or worth saving. Your dentist will then suggest extraction and a quick follow-up with a dental replacement.
Placing a replacement such as an implant or bridge is important because the tooth gap can cause alignment issues for the remaining teeth and can cause bone loss in the area.
A dental implant in particular might be a wise replacement option since the stabilizing root is surgically implanted into your jawbone and then fused into place as the surrounding bone heals. An artificial crown then snaps down onto that root. The one downside is that the process often takes months and you could be without a molar during that time if you don't qualify for same-day implants.
Talk to a dentist from a company like Southdale Dental Office to find out the right route to take for your chipped molar.