A cracked tooth can occur from something as simple as accidentally biting a fork while eating dinner.
It can happen from the pressure of grinding your teeth in your sleep, chewing or biting hard foods including lollies, ice, almonds or anything with a pit such as olives. Accidents can happen, whether in a car, playing sport, or you just fell over, it doesn’t take a lot of force to crack a tooth.
If you’re someone who enjoys a coffee with dessert, the sudden temperature change from cold to hot can cause a tooth to crack. Even old dental work such as fillings can weaken the remaining tooth structure and cause a hairline crack.
How do you know if you have a cracked tooth?
A cracked tooth is not always visible and you may not necessarily experience any symptoms. However, if you start to notice any of the following signs, we recommend speaking to your dentist.
- You are experiencing sharp pain when chewing or biting, especially when you release the bite.
- Your teeth are suddenly extremely sensitive to heat, cold or sweetness.
- Random pain that comes and goes but it doesn’t hurt all the time, bit like a toothache.
- Your gums feel swollen around the affected tooth.
It’s a good idea to take note of where the pain is coming from and to let your dentist know. If you notice any sort of pain when consuming foods that are hot or cold, sweet, sour or sticky.
Types of cracked teeth
Not all cracks are the same, with some less harmful than others and may not require treatment.
- Craze lines are tiny cracks in the enamel of the tooth, cause no pain and don’t require any treatment.
- A Fractured cusp is a crack that usually occurs around an old dental filling. It doesn’t affect the pulp, which is the soft centre of your tooth where all the nerves and soft tissue are, and therefore won’t cause much pain. However, we recommend seeing your dentist.
- Cracks that have not reached your gum line are generally saveable, but if the crack extends into your gum line, you will most likely need a tooth extraction.
- A Split tooth is when a crack travels from the surface to below the gum line and separates your tooth into two segments. This is quite an extensive crack and may involve a root canal.
- Vertical root fractures is a crack that starts below your gum line and travels upwards towards the crown. There aren’t many symptoms, but if the tooth becomes infected, you will most likely need a tooth extraction.
Why you shouldn’t ignore the signs
Although some cracks do not require any treatment, it’s always good practice to visit your dentist for a check up to ensure everything’s okay. If a broken tooth is left untreated it can lead to more serious oral health issues such as a bacterial infection where it can spread to your bone and gums.
Signs of a dental infection
- Pain when chewing
- Swollen gums
- Extreme sensitivity to heat and cold
- Tender glands in the neck
- Bad breath
Treatments for a cracked tooth
Treatment for a cracked tooth will depend of the severity of the damage. This will be the result of where the crack is located, the size of it, the symptoms you are experiencing, and whether the crack extends into the gum line. Here are some treatments your dentist may recommend:
- Bonding is when your dentist will use plastic resin to fill the crack and restore its look and function.
- Dental crown or implant is a prosthetic device made from porcelain or ceramic, replacing the tooth.
- Root canal is for more serious cases where the crack extends into the pulp. To prevent infection, a root canal removes any damaged pulp and restores some integrity to the tooth.
- Tooth extraction is required when the structure, nerves and roots of the tooth are damaged to the point that removing the tooth is the only option left.
- No treatment is required for hairline cracks in the enamel of the tooth. These cracks usually don’t affect appearance of cause any symptoms of pain.
Can I stop my teeth from cracking?
While you can’t stop your teeth from cracking entirely, there are ways to prevent it from happening.
- Wear a mouthguard if you play sports.
- Refrain from eating ice or other hard foods such as lollies.
- Don’t use your teeth to open bottles or packaging.
- Have your dental fillings checked regularly.
- Visit your dentist at least every 6 months. Link to why you should visit your dentist
- Good oral hygiene and health will keep your teeth strong. This means staying away from sugary drinks and foods, don’t brush too hard and floss your teeth once a day.
At Alpha Dental we know that oral health can be a teething nuisance. That’s why we have made it our mission to provide a long-term and sustainable solution for your oral health. We take the time to listen to your individual needs before we create a plan, ensuring all your requirements and concerns are addressed. We fill in the gaps so that you can smile with confidence.