Chipping a tooth can be distressing. Whether it happens while you’re chewing your favorite food or during a karate class, anyone can chip a tooth. But there are certain factors that can lead to teeth breaking, and should best be avoided.

Why Teeth Break & Chip

Teeth are very durable. With proper care, they can last you a lifetime, but that doesn’t mean they’re unbreakable. The outer area of your teeth are covered with enamel, which is one of hardest tissues in your body; however, it is also brittle. Due to these properties, teeth can chip like porcelain or glass. If a tooth suffers even more force, the underlying dentin can fracture leading to more serious problems.

There are two major types of trauma that can lead to teeth chipping: chronic grinding or trauma. Grinding and clenching, also known as “bruxism,” can lead to wearing on the tops of your teeth and chips near the gum line. Occlusal trauma, caused by chewing on excessively hard food or blunt force, can lead to large portions of enamel fracture. Both can be treated at the dentist, but in different ways.

One easy and effective way to protect against occlusal wear is by using an occlusal nightguard. Similar to a sports guard, it provides protection to your teeth at night. Nightguards are a great treatment option, since they’re straightforward and non-invasive.