Are you worried that you might have a cracked tooth? Signs of having a cracked tooth can be hard to spot but symptoms could display themselves as pain on chewing, especially when you release the biting pressure. Sensitivity to extreme temperatures such as a very cold drink or ice-cream may cause discomfort. Or sensitivity to sweetness with no sign of decay.
Why do teeth crack?
Teeth can crack for lots of different reasons, such as:
Extreme tooth grinding, which can put the teeth under enormous pressure
Large fillings that weaken the tooth
Chewing on hard things like toffees, boiled sweets, fruit stones or meat bones.
An injury such as a blow to the chin or lower jaw.
Gum disease that involves bone loss. This could make the teeth more likely to suffer from root fractures.
Sudden changes in mouth temperature. Some people have funny habits such as chewing on ice!
Can I stop my teeth cracking?
Not always but there are some precautions you can take, such as wearing a mouthguard if you know that you grind your teeth at night. Or wearing a custom-made sports mouthguard if you play sports. Also avoid biting or chewing on very hard objects such as ice or very hard nuts.
Teeth can crack in different ways and they don’t always need treatment
Split tooth: This is often the result of an untreated cracked tooth. The tooth splits into two parts. Vertical root fractures are cracks that start in the root and go up towards the biting surface.
Cracked tooth: This is when a crack runs from the biting surface of the tooth down towards the root. Sometimes it goes below the gum line and into the root. A cracked tooth is not split into two parts but the soft, inner tissue of the tooth is usually damaged.
Craze lines: These are tiny cracks that affect only the outer enamel of the tooth. They are common in all adult teeth and cause no pain. Craze lines need no treatment.
Cracked cusp: The cusp is the pointed part of the biting surface of the tooth. If a cusp becomes damaged, the tooth may break. You will usually get a sharp pain in that tooth when biting.
Do I need to see my dentist?
Yes it’s important to see your dentist as soon as possible, the sooner you seek treatment the more effective it could be.
What could happen if I don’t seek treatment?
If left untreated a cracked tooth could lead to the nerve of a tooth dying and an abscess might grow. The tooth could need root canal treatment or even taking out. In severe cases the tooth can actually split in two. If this happens your dentist will not be able to save the tooth and it will need to be taken out.
How is a cracked tooth fixed?
The type of treatment depends on the type of crack and it’s severity. Treatments that can be done include:
Dental filling- depending on the severity and depth of a cracked tooth a filling may be suitable.
Dental bonding- this is when a plastic resin is used to fill the crack.
Cosmetic contouring- if the chip is very small then it may be possible to round off the rough edges and polish the tooth to blend away the crack.
Onlays and crowns- these are strong coverings that go over the tooth making it stronger and giving your tooth the appearance of a natural tooth. If the nerve has been damaged and becomes infected you may need to have root canal treatment first.
Extraction- if left untreated or the crack is severe then the only option may be to have the tooth removed.
If you are concerned that you may have a cracked tooth then seek treatment from your dental practitioner.