Dental problems can come in all different disguises. If you feel a sharp pain when you bite down that disappears as soon as it comes, you may have a cracked tooth.

While teeth are perceived to be extremely resilient, it is important to remember that they are extremely hard-working, and in use every single day of our lives. Therefore, damage and trauma to them is quite common, and often occurs when you least expect it.

What causes a tooth to crack?

A tooth may crack for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to:

  • Trauma or accident, such as blunt force applied to the mouth
  • Chewing on a particularly hard item such as hard candy, nuts or ice
  • Grinding and clenching on a regular basis, often while asleep (known as bruxism)
  • Brittleness as a result of root canal treatment
  • Loss of a large part of the structure of the tooth, normally through wear and tear, cavity fillings and other restorative treatments
  • Uneven chewing pressure
  • Exposure of the enamel to extremes in temperature in a short period of time, such as drinking ice water alongside eating hot food

I can’t see a fracture. How can I tell if my tooth is cracked?

It isn’t always easy to identify a crack as the cause of your tooth pain. It may be difficult to pinpoint exactly where the pain is coming from, and hairline fractures can be almost impossible to spot, even on a dental x-ray.

If you are experiencing any sort of dental pain, you should arrange an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. This is because your dentist has the tools necessary to be able to undertake a thorough examination of your mouth and determine the cause of the pain.

If your broken or cracked tooth is the result of a trauma to your face or head, and you have any of the following symptoms, you should seek immediate medical help at your nearest emergency room straight away. Concerning symptoms that accompany a broken tooth as a result of a trauma include:

  • Bleeding from the nose or ears
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Disorientation
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headache
  • Your teeth, which used to fit together before the trauma, no longer meet where they should

If you exhibit any of the above symptoms in conjunction with a cracked tooth, medical treatment may well take priority over any dental work.

Treatment for a cracked tooth

Treatment for a cracked tooth will depend on the extent of the damage and which tooth is affected.

If your dentist finds that the crack in your tooth is only minor, only affecting the enamel rather than the inner layers of the tooth, we may refer to it as a ‘craze line’ and not recommend any treatment. Craze lines are relatively common and nothing to be concerned about. If they are visible, by polishing your tooth your dentist can help to minimize their appearance.

If the crack has extended beyond the enamel, your dentist will recommend treatment to prevent further problems from occurring, such as a deeper fracture or an infection penetrating the tooth. Typical treatments could include a crown to cover the damaged tooth, root canal if bacteria are already present in the center of the tooth, or even an extraction.

By seeking a prompt diagnosis, you can help to obtain swift and successful treatment and help preserve your long-term oral health. For further information on what to do if you experience a cracked tooth, visit our office today.

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