Do you have a cracked tooth from chewing hard foods, ice, or candy?
Any part of your tooth can have cracks and it may be visible, though it is not always the case.
Moreover, if you experience pain when chewing food, or if your teeth suddenly become sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, you might have a cracked tooth.
Any pain that comes with cracks in your tooth can come and go.
This pain can also make it more challenging for your dentist to locate the crack, particularly if it is very small in size.
If in case you suspect a cracked tooth, then you should immediately make an appointment with your dentist.
This is because leaving a cracked tooth without treatment can lead to more complications, pain, and discomfort over time.
Let’s learn more about it in detail.
Causes of a Cracked Tooth
Tooth cracks can occur due to a number of reasons. These are as follows:
- Pressure from teeth grinding
- large fillings that may weaken the integrity of your tooth
- chewing or biting hard foods like ice, nuts, or hard candy
- abrupt or sudden changes to the mouth, like from eating something extremely hot and then trying to cool your mouth with ice water
- age, with most cracks in teeth, often occur in people over 50 years of age
- blows to your mouth, these might be due to a car accident, sporting injury, fall, or even a fistfight
Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
It is important to note that a cracked tooth will not always cause any symptoms.
You might have a cracked tooth even without realizing it.
Some types of cracked teeth are harmless and do not require treatment.
However, if you notice the following, then you may have a more extensive type of crack that will need dental treatment.
Pain while eating, particularly when chewing or biting, swollen gums around the cracked tooth, and teeth that suddenly becomes sensitive to sweetness.
Moreover, teeth suddenly become sensitive to hot or cold foods and beverages.
Pain that tends to come and go and discomfort around the teeth and gums that may be hard to pinpoint are some symptoms that need medical treatment.
Types of Cracked Tooth
One of the important things to note is that tooth cracks are often common in people over the age of 50.
Moreover, women tend to develop it more often than men.
Another important thing to note is that cracks can vary in length, depth, a location on your tooth.
The smallest care is the Craze line, and they often develop within the tooth enamel.
You are most likely to note a craze line and no treatment is necessary unless it causes any symptoms.
The following are the types of cracks in teeth:
Oblique Supragingival Cracks: These cracks only affect the crown and do not extend below the gum line. As a result, they are often not very painful.
Oblique Subgingival Cracks: These cracks do extend below the gum line and can be very painful.
Moreover, you will need treatment to expose the crown and restore your tooth.
Split Tooth: Such a crack splits your tooth in two.
Furthermore, your dentist will most likely be able to save one part which they can restore with a crown. You may also need a root canal treatment.
Root Cracks: Root cracks often do not appear on the surface of your tooth and the damage occurs below the gum line, often below the jawbone.
Your dentist will recommend tooth extraction for this type of crack.
Fractured Cusp: Fractures occur when a piece of the chewing surface of your tooth breaks off.
A fractured cusp is one of the most common types that occur around a dental filling.
Vertical Apical Root Cracks: This crack begins at the root of your tooth and extends toward the crown.
It can also range in length, however, your tooth will often have to be removed because of the pain.
Diagnosing a Cracked Tooth
A cracked tooth is not always simple to diagnose, as it is often not visible.
Your dentist will have to try making a diagnosis by asking about your dental history and the symptoms you might be experiencing.
Moreover, your dentist will also examine your teeth, with the help of a magnifying glass to help identify these cracks.
They may also use a pointed instrument: A Dental Explorer, which catches on rough, cracked edges on the surface of your tooth.
Furthermore, using a dental dye can also make cracks more visible on your tooth.
During the examination, your dentist will also check your gums for any signs of inflammation because the cracks in teeth often tend to irritate the gums.
Additionally, they may ask you to bite down on something, try, and pinpoint the source of pain.
With the help of a dental X-ray, they will also examine your teeth.
However, X-rays do not always show where cracks are but can help reveal problems in the pulp of your teeth.
If the pulp appears to be unhealthy, it may suggest the presence of a crack.
Visiting a Dentist
If you suspect that you have a cracked tooth, then you should immediately make an appointment with your dentist.
It is particularly important when you experience pain and discomfort.
In the meantime you can also follow some of the following home remedies to help relieve uncomfortable symptoms:
- rinse your mouth with warm water to keep it clean.
- you can take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen
- use a cold compress against the cheek to help reduce the swelling.
One of the important things to note is that the longer you wait for getting treatment for a cracked tooth, the harder it may get for your dentist to save it.
Moreover, complications may occur like infection, if you do not get treatment.
The best treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the location of the crack and the extent of damage it causes.
If a crack is small and causes no discomfort, you may not need treatment.
However, in case of a crack affecting your teeth, you may need the following treatment:
- using a filling
- using a crown, a cap that covers your cracked tooth entirely
- repairing the crack with plastic resin a process called bonding
- gluing on the chipped or broken part of your tooth
However, in most severe cases where the crack is generating the pulp of your tooth, you will need root canal treatment.
But if your tooth is badly cracked, your dentist will have to remove the teeth altogether.
In case there is a crack in tooth filling, your dentist may need to remove the filling in order to examine the damage more thoroughly.
Let’s discuss the options as follows:
Dental Procedures for Cracked Tooth
The dental procedures your dentist may use for a cracked tooth are:
In this procedure, your dentist will use a plastic resin to fill the crack, thus, restoring it back to its look and function.
A dental crown is a prosthetic treatment that often comprises porcelain or ceramic and fits over your tooth or caps it.
To make sure that it fits your tooth, they will first shave off some enamel to make room for the crown, then make an impression, pick a color that matches your teeth, and send them to the dental lab.
This procedure can take a couple of weeks, and when they return, your dentist will fit and cement them over the cracked tooth.
However, in some cases, you may get a porcelain crown in the office as there are advancements in technology that make this process faster.
Moreover, with proper care, you can make sure that your crown lasts a lifetime.
In case the crack is extensive that it extends to the pulp, your dentist or oral surgeon or endodontist will recommend a root canal.
During this procedure, they will remove the damaged pulp and restore some integrity to the tooth and this treatment can help to prevent your tooth from infection or weakening further.
If the structure of your tooth and the nerves and the roots that lie below the gum line have extensive damage, then removing the tooth will be the only option.
Complications of a Cracked Tooth
A cracked tooth can cause complications if you do not get treatment in time.
For instance, it can lead to an infection, which in turn can also infect other teeth and gums.
Signs of infection are:
- increase in pain
- swelling of the gums
- increase in sensitivity to both hot and cold temperature
- bad breath
- sore neck glands
One of the important things to note is that cracked teeth are not always preventable.
However, with the help of a few strategies, you can help prevent them. These are:
Make sure to avoid foods that are hard to chew like ice and unpopped popcorn kernels.
Put an end to certain habits that can cause damage to your teeth. like grinding or biting on pens.
If you grind your teeth or clench your jaw while asleep, then you may need to talk to your dentist or seek medical advice about wearing a mouth guard at night.
In some cases, a cracked tooth may cause no symptoms at all, however, if it does, then it is important to seek medical advice to avoid any complications which may lead to an infection or completely removing your tooth.
To relieve some of the symptoms at home, you can rinse your mouth with warm water and use a cold compress on the outside of your cheek to prevent swelling.
Moreover, anti-inflammatory painkillers like iburophen can help to rescue the swelling and pain as well. Delaying the treatment can put your mouth at even greater risk.