A cracked tooth is a common dental condition that can be caused by various reasons such as trauma, teeth grinding, biting pressure, and more. A cracked tooth can lead to severe pain, tooth loss, and other dental complications if left untreated. Hence, seeking timely treatment is necessary to prevent further damage to your teeth. This blog post discusses the different cracked tooth treatment options, prevention tips, and more.
Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
Pain When Biting or Chewing
A cracked tooth can cause sharp, localised pain when biting or chewing. This happens because the pressure applied by biting causes the crack to open and stimulate nerve endings. Depending on the severity of the crack, the pain can be mild or excruciating. You should seek dental treatment immediately if you experience pain when biting or chewing.
Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Temperatures
Another common symptom of a cracked tooth is sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures. This occurs because the crack in the tooth structure allows temperature changes to reach the nerve endings within the tooth, which are sensitive to stimuli. Even a sip of cold water or hot tea can result in discomfort if you have a cracked tooth. Using toothpaste for sensitive teeth may help, but if the sensitivity persists, see your dentist.
Inconsistent Pain That Comes and Goes
Cracked teeth don’t always cause constant pain. In some cases, the pain may be sporadic and come and go. This inconsistency can be particularly frustrating and confusing, especially if the pain seems to go away. However, it is important to understand that this doesn’t mean the problem has resolved itself. Ignoring the symptoms of a cracked tooth can lead to serious issues such as tooth loss or the need for a root canal.
Swollen Gums Around the Affected Area
If the crack in your tooth extends close to the gum line, it can cause inflammation and swelling of the soft tissue. This is another reason why it is essential to see your dentist if you experience any of the other symptoms mentioned above. Left untreated, the inflammation and swelling can worsen and cause serious damage to the tooth’s root. This can make it hard for the dentist to salvage your natural tooth, leading to tooth extraction.
Causes of Cracked Teeth
One of the main causes of teeth cracking is teeth grinding or clenching, a condition called bruxism. Bruxism puts a lot of pressure on the teeth, leading to tiny cracks in the tooth structure, making them more susceptible to wear and tear. If left untreated, these cracks can deepen, leading to tooth fractures and even tooth loss. Wear a mouthguard at night to lessen the impact of biting and grinding, and avoid excessive consumption of caffeine and alcohol, which can cause bruxism.
The second cause of tooth cracking is chewing on hard objects. Ice, popcorn kernels, and hard candy are some examples of foods that can lead to tooth fractures. While you should avoid chewing on hard objects, if you do, avoid biting down with full force, and stick to softer foods, like cooked vegetables and fruits. Also, visit your dentist if you experience trauma to your tooth or face.
Another reason why teeth crack is due to weakened teeth. Teeth can weaken due to large fillings or root canal treatment removing most of the natural tooth structure, resulting in a weaker tooth structure. If this is the case, a crown, inlay, or onlay could be required to protect the tooth’s structure and prevent further damage. Your dental history may also play a role in recognising if you have weakened tooth enamel.
Trauma to the face or mouth can also lead to cracked teeth. Accidents and trauma to the face can lead to tooth fractures, and without proper treatment, it can lead to further complications like infection of the soft tissues. If you experience a blow to your face or mouth, visit your dentist as soon as possible to identify, diagnose, and treat any potential tooth damage before it worsens.
Types of Cracked Teeth
These are tiny cracks that only affect the tooth’s outer enamel. They are usually harmless and don’t require any treatment. Craze lines are common, and you may have several on your teeth without realising it. They are often caused by teeth grinding or clenching, which puts significant pressure on the tooth’s surface.
This type of crack typically occurs around a filling, causing a piece of the tooth’s biting surface to break off. While not an emergency, your dentist should still address a fractured cusp as soon as possible. Your dentist may recommend a dental filling or crown to restore the tooth’s function and prevent further damage.
A cracked tooth is a more severe form of damage beyond the tooth’s outer enamel. Symptoms of a cracked tooth may include pain when biting down, sensitivity to hot or cold food, or swelling in the gum line. Treatment for a cracked tooth will depend on the location and severity of the crack. In some cases, a dental filling may suffice. However, some cracked teeth may require a root canal treatment to save the natural tooth from extraction.
Split teeth occur when a crack goes untreated, and the tooth separates into two pieces. This damage often causes significant pain and swelling and must be treated as a dental emergency. In most cases, the affected tooth must be extracted to prevent further damage to the surrounding teeth and gums.
Vertical Root Fracture
These cracks are deep and often occur below the gum line, making them difficult to diagnose. Symptoms may include pain and swelling, but often there are no visible signs of damage. Treatment may require a complex root canal procedure or extraction of the affected tooth if the damage is too severe.
In some cases, dental bonding or dental filling can be an effective treatment option for small cracks or fractures. This option involves the application of a tooth-coloured resin material to cover the crack and restore the tooth’s natural appearance. This option is excellent for minor cracks not extending below the gum line. However, if the crack is on one of your adult teeth, there may be better options than this, as it may not hold up over time.
For larger cracks, dental crowns can be a suitable treatment option. A dental crown is a cap placed over the affected tooth to protect it from further damage. This type of treatment is typically used for fractures involving tooth structure loss. The crown can be made of porcelain, metal, or resin-based composite materials. We always suggest you speak with your dentist about which type of crown is best for you, as each has benefits and drawbacks.
Root canal therapy may sometimes be needed if the crack extends further into the tooth’s root. This treatment involves the removal of the pulp and nerves within the tooth, followed by filling and sealing the tooth’s canals. The tooth is then topped with a dental crown to protect it from further damage. This is typically the best option if you are experiencing severe pain and sensitivity.
If the crack or split has extended beyond the gum line, then tooth extraction may be the only option for treatment. After tooth extraction, we suggest you consider tooth replacement options such as dental implants or a bridge. You should always work with your dentist to make the best decision for your oral health.
Avoid Chewing on Hard Objects
Chewing on hard objects like ice, candies, or pens can cause tiny cracks in your tooth enamel, leading to more severe damage over time. Try to avoid chewing on these objects if possible, and if you must, try to break them into smaller pieces before chewing. Also, try not to use your teeth to crack open nuts or bottles, which can cause fractures and tooth loss.
Wear a Mouthguard While Playing Sports
If you play sports with a risk of impact to your mouth, such as rugby, hockey, or martial arts, it is advisable to wear a mouthguard. Mouthguards protect your teeth and gums from damage caused by sudden impacts or falls. They can also help prevent a split tooth, gum line, or vertical root fracture.
Practise Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to prevent tooth loss and treat cracked teeth. Brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss regularly, and use a mouthwash to rinse off any harmful bacteria that remain in your mouth. This will help remove plaque and debris from your teeth and keep your mouth healthy.
Visit the Dentist Regularly
Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are critical to identifying and treating dental problems before they worsen. During these appointments, your dentist will check for any cracks in your teeth, gum disease, or other signs of tooth damage. They can also provide a cracked tooth diagnosis and suggest any required treatment, such as a dental filling or a root canal treatment.
A cracked tooth is a dental condition that should not be ignored, as it can lead to severe pain, tooth loss, and other dental complications. Timely diagnosis and treatment are crucial to prevent further damage to your teeth. If you are experiencing any symptoms of a cracked tooth, speak to your dentist immediately. In addition, adopting preventive measures such as wearing a mouthguard, avoiding hard objects, and regular dental check-ups can save you from developing this condition in the future. Contact our professional dental team at Gordon Family Dental today to schedule your first consultation!
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
The Obvious and the Obscure: Steps for Crack Detection and Confirmation https://www.aae.org/specialty/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/07/ltfbonusmaterial_c.pdf
Cracked Tooth Syndrome https://medical.mit.edu/sites/default/files/crackedtooth.pdf