Even though your teeth are the hardest substances in your body, even harder than bone, a tooth can become cracked. This arises because of trauma or injury but it can also happen from daily wear and tear from the pressure of chewing and biting down. If a tooth does crack, you may experience pain when you eat or consume hot or cold foods and beverages.
However, depending on the degree of the fracture, you may not feel pain consistently, which may make it difficult to detect the affected tooth. This is when it is a good idea to visit our endodontist as we specialize in saving cracked teeth. Early treatment produces the best outcome.
Our job is to save teeth, so we can find the damaged tooth, determine the extent of the fracture, and provide proper treatment to prevent it from deteriorating further. With prompt treatment your tooth can often function normally for many years to come.
Your tooth is made up of layers. The part of the tooth you can see is the crown with its hard white layer of enamel. Under that is another hard layer called dentin, and beneath that, you have the pulp which is made of soft tissues like nerves and blood vessels. If for some reason you have a crack in the hard sections of the tooth, when you chew, these pieces can shift. This shifting irritates the tooth pulp when you bite down and chew. If the crack is bad enough, the pulp can become infected and affect the tooth’s supportive bone and gum tissue. Over time, the pulp won’t be able to keep healing itself, so you’ll likely notice a sensitivity to the hot and cold things you consume.
Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
While a cracked tooth may not always exhibit symptoms, there are some common symptoms you may find yourself experiencing:
-Sensitivity when you consume hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks
-Swelling in your gum tissue around a tooth
-Intermittent pain in a tooth
-Pain when you bite down or chew, more noticeably when you let up on the bite
Treating a Cracked Tooth
-Craze Lines: These only affect the enamel layer and are typically shallow and painless. Treatment is not needed for this kind of fracture.
-Fractured Cusp: This can show up on a section of the tooth’s chewing surface when a piece breaks off. It can usually be repaired with a new filling or crown.
Cracked Tooth: If the pulp is damaged, a root canal can be done to save the tooth, and then capping it with a crown to keep the crack from spreading. Should the crack travel under the gum line it generally can’t be treated so an extraction will need to be done.
Split Tooth: An endodontic treatment can often save part of the damaged tooth. If not, then it will need to be pulled.
Vertical Root Fracture: This crack travels from the root of the tooth towards the chewing surface. Endodontic surgery may save the tooth by taking out the fractured parts
Protecting Your Teeth
To protect your teeth, it’s always a good idea to avoid chewing on hard objects. If you like ice, please don’t chew it! That goes for unpopped popcorn kernels, pens, your fingernails, etc. If you grind or clench your teeth, wearing a mouth guard or night guard can cushion your teeth to prevent fracturing. If you are active in high impact sports or recreational activities, you can wear a mouthguard or other protective gear.
If you suspect you might have a cracked tooth, seeking treatment early can help save your tooth so that it can serve you well for years to come! Please give our team a call to learn more or to schedule a visit.