One of the most common causes of a cracked tooth is chewing on hard foods. Sometimes, aging adults are more prone to getting a cracked tooth. The latter is a common condition, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in industrialized nations.
A cracked tooth may happen in any part, it may be visible, but it is not always the case. The pain associated with a cracked tooth may come and go quickly. So the dentist may have a difficult time locating the crack, especially if it is extremely small. So in this article, let us talk about the causes of a cracked tooth. We will also give you its symptoms and treatments to consider.
What Are The Causes Of A Cracked Tooth?
Different causes may lead to a cracked tooth. The first and the most common reason is the pressure from teeth grinding. Chewing or biting hard foods can weaken the integrity of the tooth.
Most of us love crunchy chicken wings, nachos, and other snacks. But too much consumption of these foods is not suitable for your health and your teeth, especially for aging adults. Most teeth cracks occur in people aged 50 and above.
Blows to the mouth may cause a cracked tooth as well. It can be because of a car accident, sports injury, fall, or a fist fight. Finally, the abrupt changes in the temperature in the mouth are one of the causes of a cracked tooth.
For example, eating extremely hot noodles and cooling your mouth with ice water is not a good idea. Aside from it can cause tooth sensitivity, it can weaken the foundation of your teeth, which may lead to a cracked tooth.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Cracked Tooth?
As mentioned, a cracked tooth may either be too obvious or not at all. It may not even show any signs at all. But when a cracked tooth becomes worse, one of the most common symptoms is a pain in chewing or biting.
You may also experience sensitivity to cold and hot foods and even to sweetness. The pain may come and go, but it is not continuous. In worse cases, the cracked tooth may cause swelling of the gum around the affected area.
Types Of A Cracked Tooth
A cracked tooth is more than just a “crack.” It comes in different appearances and levels of severity. It is crucial to locate the cracked tooth and identify its time to determine the best approach to treating it. Here are the common types of a cracked tooth.
- Craze Lines. It is one of the most common types of a cracked tooth, which forms super-small cracks in the enamel of the teeth. The patient may feel no pain, and it usually doesn’t require any treatment. But it is essential to get it checked at your dentist.
- Fractured Cusp. This type of cracked tooth occurs around the dental filling. Fortunately, it doesn’t cause too much pain because it doesn’t affect the tooth’s pulp. Although examination would be crucial to guarantee that it has no effects on the soft center of the tooth, which is the location of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues.
- Cracks that extend into the gum line. A tooth with a vertical crack through it but one that hasn’t yet reached the gum line is treatable. But if the crack extends to the gum line, it may require tooth extraction. The best chance of saving a tooth is to seek treatment as soon as possible.
- Split Tooth. In this case, a crack runs from the surface of the tooth to below the gum line. It is an extensive crack that may be impossible to save the entire tooth. But with prompt diagnosis, your dentist may save a portion of it.
- Vertical Root Fracture. This crack starts below the gum line and progresses upward. Unless the tooth becomes infected, it rarely causes much in the way of symptoms. But it may lead to extraction of the affected tooth without proper treatment.
How Dentists Diagnose A Cracked Tooth?
But what would a dentist do to diagnose a cracked tooth? Since some cracked teeth, cases are not always visible; the diagnosis is not always simple. When the crack isn’t visible, a dentist will ask the person about their dental history and the symptoms they are experiencing to make a diagnosis.
After this, the dentist may use a magnifying glass to help identify cracks in the teeth. They may also use a pointed instrument called a dental explorer to catch any rough or cracked edges on the teeth.
Cracks can also become more visible with a dental dye. The dentist will examine the gums for signs of inflammation because cracks in teeth irritate the gums. Another test will be biting down on something to locate the source of pain if the patient feels one.
An x-ray of the teeth can be an instrument to diagnose a cracked tooth. But since it doesn’t always show the formation of the crack, dentists use other tests. Still, this technique can reveal problems in the pulp of the teeth. When the pulp of a tooth appears to be unhealthy, a crack might be present.
Is A Cracked Tooth Treatable?
The treatment for a cracked tooth depends on various factors. Each patient has different needs. The dentist needs to assess the size of the crack, its formation, your symptoms, and its severity. Depending on these factors, the dentist will conclude the best treatment for your cracked tooth. Here are some treatments your dentist may consider.
Cracked Tooth Treatment #1 – Bonding
In this procedure, your doctor uses a plastic resin to fill the crack. It helps in restoring its look and function. But note that it is only suitable for less severe tooth cracks.
Cracked Tooth Treatment #2 – Crown
A dental crown is a prosthetic device composed of porcelain or ceramic that replaces a missing tooth. It covers or caps the injured tooth. To place a crown, your dentist removes some enamel from your tooth to make room in your mouth for the crown. They next take an impression of the tooth, choose a color that matches your teeth, and send it to a dental lab to be made into a crown.
This procedure could take a few weeks. When the crown arrives, your dentist will fit it over your cracked tooth and cement it in place. Some dentists can now mill a porcelain crown immediately in the office and place it the same day, thanks to technological advancements. A crown can last a lifetime if properly taken care of.
Cracked Tooth Treatment #3 – Root Canal
When a crack reaches the pulp, your dentist or a specialist like an oral surgeon or an endodontist will propose a root canal to remove the injured pulp and restore the tooth’s structure. This surgery can help keep the tooth from becoming infected or deteriorating further.
Cracked Tooth Treatment #4 – Extraction
As mentioned, a tooth crack may affect the nerves and roots underneath the structure of the tooth. When it happens, your dentist may have to perform an extraction. At this point, the severity is so massive that removing the affected tooth may be the only option.
Can A Cracked Tooth Heal On Its Own?
A fractured tooth can’t heal on its own. Unlike your bones, which have many blood vessels and can thus mend themselves, tooth enamel has no blood supply and cannot mend itself once it gets broken. You can’t just wait for the crack to cure itself. You need to ask your dentist about the best possible treatment.
What Happens If A Cracked Tooth Goes Untreated?
If left untreated, a broken tooth can cause discomfort, decay, and eventually tooth loss. If you have a broken tooth, it is crucial to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. This way, the dentist can diagnose the formation of the cracked tooth and find the best treatment.
The severity of a broken tooth varies. An infection that can spread to the bone and gums is perhaps the most severe complication of a fractured tooth. Fever and pain when chewing are two indications of a dental infection. It is what dentists refer to as a tooth abscess.
For many people, a cracked tooth is a common occurrence. To save the tooth and your look, a range of procedures are available. While a cracked tooth is treatable, you need to get it checked with a dentist. You have to make sure that there would be no infections that may cause further complications.
The best chance of saving your tooth and preventing infection is prevention. When it comes to protecting your smile, good dental care, avoiding hard meals, and wearing a mouthguard if you grind your teeth or participate in contact sports will go a long way.
If you have been experiencing the symptoms of a cracked tooth, call the best dentist in Menlo Park. Call us at 650-328-2072 or schedule an appointment online. Let us help you find the best treatment for your cracked tooth.
Marisa Walker, DDS
150 Middlefield Rd #101, Menlo Park, CA 94025