Cracked, chipped and broken teeth are not uncommon. In most cases, your dentist will be able to restore your damaged teeth. Cracked or broken teeth can be painful, and they don’t look great. It can make you feel uncomfortable and not wanting to confidently show off your smile.
Even though the enamel of your teeth is the strongest substance in your body, it doesn’t mean your teeth aren’t at risk of cracking, chipping and breaking under certain circumstances. According to published research, cracks are more common if you are 40 and older and a woman.
Why Do Teeth Crack?
There are a variety of reasons why a tooth may crack. Here are some of the most common ones:
Pressure from grinding your teeth can cause them to crack and break. Night guards can be made to protect your teeth if you have this problem.
Large fillings can weaken the structure of your tooth. They can also cause cracks over time.
Foods like ice, nuts and hard candies can put stress on your teeth. This stress may lead to cracks.
It’s no surprise that injury can wreak havoc on your teeth. Trauma, such as a blow to the face, can cause cracks, chips and breaks.
The older you get, the more wear and tear can occur causing your teeth to become weakened. As stated earlier, if you are 40 or older, you are more susceptible to cracks.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
Not all cracks can cause pain or need treatment., If they are going to cause you trouble, then here are some symptoms you might experience:
- Pain when chewing or biting down, especially when you release your bite.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drink.
- Intermittent pain (rather than constant pain) that may come and go.
- Swelling or infection. Swelling may be a sign a crack has damaged the pulp of the tooth and this can lead to infection.
- Part of your tooth may break off or you might notice brown lines vertically on your tooth.
5 Types of Tooth Cracks That Can Occur
There are different types of cracks. Each one depends on where they occur and how they happened.
- Hairline or Craze Crack
Tiny little cracks can appear in the enamel. They usually show as tiny vertical lines. They don’t run down to the gum and are mostly superficial. They rarely lead to treatment.
- Cusp Fracture
A cusp fracture can happen when part of the biting surface of your tooth breaks off. It’s common in teeth that are heavily filled. It may require a root canal, depending on how far the crack extends.
- Cracked to the Gumline
This occurs when a crack runs through the tooth but not below the gumline. These can usually be treated.
- Split Tooth
This crack travels from the surface area to below the gumline. With this type of crack, the tooth can mostly not be saved.
- Vertical Root Crack
This happens below the gumline and begins at the root of the tooth. Usually they can’t be repaired and will need extraction, unless your dentist can remove the damaged portion of the tooth. Usually the tooth will have previously had a root canal making it weaker.
Simple Ways To Prevent Your Teeth From Cracking
Cracks may not be entirely preventable. However, attending regular checkup appointments and having x-rays taken when advised by your dentist are two of the best ways to help prevent your teeth from cracking. Your dentist will be able to identify any early cracks and repair them before they become a bigger problem. Here are some other suggestions to help you prevent your teeth from cracking.
Have a Good Oral Health Routine
A good oral health routine will help keep your mouth in great shape. Brushing twice daily and flossing once a day is very important.
Eat a Diet Rich in Calcium
If you have a lack of calcium, your body will start to take it from your teeth and bones. This can leave them weak. The easiest way to get calcium into your body is through your diet. Eating foods such as dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurts), dark leafy greens, almonds and soy milk all provide sources of the nutrient.
Avoid Hard Foods
Although teeth are structured for chewing and breaking down foods, very hard foods such as nuts, popcorn kernels, ice and hard candy are not tooth friendly. They put extra pressure on your teeth and should be avoided to prevent cracking.
Get a Night Guard
Wearing a guard at night will help you protect your teeth. Clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth damages them. A lot of the time, this occurs when we sleep and aren’t aware nor have control over it. So, the guard is needed to take the impact. Also, if you are playing contact sports, then a gum shield is strongly recommended.
What To Do if You Crack a Tooth
If you crack your tooth, call us right away for an appointment. We offer same-day appointments for your convenience and emergencies. The quicker you have treatment, the easier it is for us to repair your tooth and prevent any pain occurring.
Don’t try and fix it yourself. You could end up doing more damage to your tooth. Keep your mouth as clean as possible until you are able to get to us. Salt water rinses will help flush your mouth.Avoid chewing in that area. It’s also important to remember that extremes of hot and cold foods could be painful. Your cracked tooth will likely be very sensitive. If it is causing pain, then you can try over-the-counter medication such as paracetamol and ibuprofen. A cold compress on your cheek may help reduce any swelling.
If your tooth has broken off, bring any pieces with you to your appointment. It is helpful for your dentist to have the broken piece.
How To Fix a Cracked Tooth
The treatment you receive will depend on the type of crack that has occurred, how deep it runs and how quickly you access treatment. Not all cracks need treatment if they aren’t causing pain and are very small.
We will take x-rays, and fully examine your teeth. We will ask questions about your symptoms, if you eat hard foods and will ask you to bite down and release to see if you have any pain. In some cases, we may use a dye to highlight cracks and use a magnifier to show any tiny cracks.
Treatment will then be able to be decided. Some of the following treatments may be an option.
This is a restorative procedure that uses resin to fill in cracks. Sometimes, a normal filling may be an option depending on the severity of the crack, chip or break.
Crowns are common for restoring teeth. They act as a protective covering over your remaining tooth. They are usually made from porcelain or ceramic materials.
If the crack extends to the pulp and the roots are exposed, then the tooth will need a root canal. Your dentist or endodontist will remove the damaged pulp. The aim is to stop pain and prevent infection.
Measures are typically taken to save a tooth. However, if the tooth is very damaged along with the roots and nerves and a root canal has been tried, then an extraction will be required.
How We Can Help
At West Coast Dental, our highly-specialized dentists and endodontists can advise you on the best course of treatment for your cracked teeth. Where possible, we will restore your tooth using the most appropriate treatment. Book an emergency appointment at a time convenient to you today.
Journal of Esthetic and Restorative Dentistry – “Cracked Teeth: A Review of the Literature”
Healthline – What You Need to Know About Your Tooth Pulp
National Institutes of Health (NIH) – Calcium