Teeth are strong by nature. This does not mean that they can never be damaged. Cracking a tooth is one of the most common dental issues. This cracking can happen for a number of reasons, including biting on a hard substance, being hit in the face, having large amalgam fillings and grinding teeth.
Cracks in teeth may not be obvious at first. However, they can result in pain or sensitivity, if the dentin and nerve endings inside the tooth are exposed. The quicker the problem is dealt with, the less damage is likely to be caused. This limits the amount of pain that is experienced.
Ways in which teeth can crack
There is not just one way in which a tooth can crack. These situations can all happen, for a variety of reasons.
- Cracked tooth. A tooth is regarded as cracked if a crack runs from the top of the tooth to the gum, or below. This is a serious issue which should be addressed straight away.
- Craze lines on a tooth. These lines can appear as people get older. They are superficial, as they are only on the surface of the tooth. Craze lines are not normally a serious issue and do not usually require anything other than cosmetic treatment.
- Cracking to the cusp. The pointed part of the top of a tooth is the cusp. If this cracks it can lead to damage of the entire tooth. Any cracking to the cusp should be dealt with straight away.
- Split tooth. If a crack in a tooth is left untreated, the tooth can split in two. This is a serious situation which may result in the loss of the tooth.
Aside from craze lines, any type of crack to a tooth is serious. You should seek help from a dentist straight away, if you have a crack in one of your teeth.
How to tell if you have a cracked tooth
It may be obvious that you have a cracked tooth; if you have had an accident. However, this is not always the case. Cracked teeth are not always very apparent. Look out for subtle signs such as:
- Tooth sensitivity.
- Discomfort when biting down.
- Rough edges that you can feel with your tongue.
- Minor swelling in the gum around an affected tooth.
If you have any doubts about whether your tooth is cracked, visit your dentist and ask for advice.
See a dentist straight away
If you suspect that you have a cracked tooth, you should make an emergency appointment at the dentist. This helps to reduce the amount of damage caused.
If the damage is causing you pain, you can take some pain relief while you wait for your appointment. If you have to eat something, stick with soft foods and avoid biting down with the affected tooth. You need to do all that you can to stop the problem getting any worse before you see the dentist.
How a cracked tooth is treated
Not every cracked tooth is treated in the same way. The action that a dentist takes depends on the type of crack involved and how severe it is. You may be able to have your cracked tooth dealt with in just one visit. On the other hand, more serious cracking can require several visits to the surgery.
There are several different techniques which can be used to solve a problem with a cracked tooth.
- Cosmetic contouring
In cases where the cracking is minor, the problem may be merely cosmetic. The rough edges caused by the crack can be smoothed and polished, returning the tooth to its original appearance.
- Bonding a crack
A crack in a tooth can be filled using a plastic resin. This procedure can be carried out when the chip or crack is small and the surface of the tooth needs to be restored to its original shape. Bonding a tooth means that chewing can take place as normal.
Veneers are often used to treat teeth when chips are more severe. They are a good solution when there is still a lot of tooth left in place. A thin layer of porcelain or plastic is placed over the front of the tooth, returning it to its original shape. This repair is long lasting and helps to retain the overall appearance of a person’s mouth.
A crown may be used instead of a veneer, if there is not a lot of tooth left. A crown covers the tooth, so that the shape is maintained, improving the appearance and performance of the tooth. Sometimes, the nerve of the tooth is damaged when the tooth is cracked, or after the crack has happened. If this is the case, root canal work may be necessary. Any infected material is removed, and the root canal is cleaned, before the crown is fitted. The crown provides extra strength to the tooth for the rest of its life.
No treatment can ever reverse a crack in a tooth. Teeth do not heal in the same way that bones do. However, dentists provide treatment which repairs cracks in teeth. This helps teeth to retain their normal appearance. It also helps to protect against further damage which can lead to decay and the loss of teeth.
The team at the Neem Tree provides support and treatment for anyone who has cracked a tooth. We provide emergency appointments for people who require treatment straight away, to limit the amount of damage caused by a crack or chip. The dental professionals at the Neem Tree talk to patients about the different treatments available when a tooth has been damaged. We provide advice about the best course of action and how long it will take. Contact us as soon as you realise that you have a cracked tooth, so that we can start to help with the problem.