18 Nov Why You Should Never Ignore A Cracked Tooth
As we carry our adult teeth for a lifetime, they become exposed to natural wear and tear. What causes a cracked tooth and how do you know when it’s time to call your dentist? Here are common types of cracked teeth and what to do about them.
What Causes a Cracked Tooth?
A cracked tooth can occur for a number of reasons.
Biting Hard Foods – hard foods cause pressure on teeth resulting in a crack, fracture, or chipped tooth. When enjoying hard candies and ice cubes, dissolve the special treat in your mouth rather than biting down. Holiday treats such as nuts, candy canes, and popcorn kernels, can all cause damage to teeth if not enjoyed properly.
Grinding – each time we clench our jaw, the back molars exert up to 200 pounds per square inch, ten times more than when we chew. A locked jaw is strong enough to bend metal. If you wake feeling jaw tenderness, headache, or sleeplessness, talk to your dentist about a night guard.
Injury – an accidental fall, a sporting injury, car accident, and any direct blow to the jaw or mouth can result in damage to teeth. In sports, wear the appropriate protective mouth gear.
Health – certain diseases including osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune diseases can weaken enamel making teeth more prone to cavities, infection, and cracking. It’s important to adopt a regular dental hygiene routine to protect the health of your mouth.
Extreme Temperatures – if you have ever eaten something too hot and quickly cooled down with an iced beverage, you have exposed your teeth to extreme temperatures. Switching between hot and cold temperatures causes teeth to expand and contract and may cause gradual fracture lines over time.
Age – We use our adult teeth for a lifetime. As we age, gums begin to recede increasing the likelihood for tooth decay and cavities. Weakened enamel exposes teeth to a greater chance for cracks.
Types of Cracked Teeth
While certain cracks like craze lines do not require treatment, the best course of action is to schedule a consultation with your dentist.
Craze Lines – also known as hairline cracks or micro-fractures, craze lines are very thin lines on the surface of the enamel. All teeth develop craze lines over time. They are usually painless and typically not a health concern.
Cracked Tooth – a vertical crack that runs from the biting surface to just above the gumline can often be repaired by the dentist. Once the crack moves below the gum line, it may need to be extracted and should be taken care of immediately to prevent bacteria from getting into the gum, causing infection.
Fractured Cusp – this is a common injury that occurs around a dental filling. An incomplete fracture of the crown, it may cause very little pain that comes and goes with eating. Depending on the depth of the fracture, your dentist may observe it, require a crown, or in severe cases perform a root canal or extraction.
Split Tooth – a complete fracture from the crown of the tooth to below the gum line resulting in two entirely separated tooth segments. It may be possible to save a portion of the tooth but unlikely to save the entire tooth.
Vertical Root Fracture – as the name implies, this fracture begins below the gumline and travels upward toward the biting surface. Symptoms may not initially appear unless the tooth becomes infected. This disruption of the tooth requires a root canal or extraction of the tooth.
Not all tooth fractures are dangerous and some naturally occur over time. The key to optimal dental health is prevention in how we eat, play sports, and care for our teeth daily. As with any health concern, self-diagnosis can lead to more serious issues.
At Imperial Dental Center, our team is trained to identify and diagnose small fractures or cracks in teeth and make appropriate recommendations. Contact us today at (281) 265-3567 or schedule an online appointment to discuss any dental concerns you may have.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
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