A chipped tooth generally isn't a significant problem. When only a small amount of the tooth's structure has been lost, the problem is largely cosmetic. Of course, if the problem isn't solved, the tooth might experience further deterioration, meaning that root canal treatment or even an extraction might be the tooth's ultimate fate. Cosmetic dentistry is able to restore the tooth's lost structure, and there are a number of ways to achieve this.
Rebuilding With Resin
Minor chips are generally repaired using a dental composite resin. This resin is applied to the tooth in order to replace its missing structure. Your dentist then uses a curing light so that the resin sets to the maximum possible density, resulting in a restoration that is as robust as possible. This is suitable when a tooth only needs minimal reshaping since the strength of this method will be compromised when used to replace a larger section of a tooth's lost structure.
A Partial Solution for a Partial Problem
Sometimes the chip might be too large for composite resin to offer a viable solution, and yet not enough surface area has been lost to warrant a complete dental crown. If this applies to your specific circumstances, your dentist might suggest a partial dental crown. This requires two steps, and firstly, your dentist must take a physical impression or digital scan of the tooth in order to determine the necessary dimensions of the porcelain partial restoration. It's then manufactured and bonded to the tooth during your second appointment. It will only cover the missing portions of the tooth with the seams of the partial crown then blended into your existing enamel for a natural look.
Crowning a Major Chip
Major chips can mean that further deterioration of the tooth will be inevitable, and this must be avoided. A complete dental crown is a prosthetic shield (generally made entirely of porcelain, although other materials may be used) which encases the tooth. Again, a physical impression or digital scan will be needed before the crown is manufactured and fitted at a later appointment. You might be given a temporary crown in the interim. Additionally, a small amount of dental enamel will often be removed so that the overall tooth isn't too bulky once the crown has been fitted.
A chipped tooth should be professionally inspected, and the best treatment really depends on the amount of the tooth's structure that has been chipped away.