Teeth can crack for a variety of reasons. They may break as a result of chewing on foods that are too hard, grinding your teeth, or even just as a natural part of the aging process. In many cases, cracked teeth may even lead to tooth loss.
Cracked tooth treatment is available at Tranquility Dental Spa in Bellaire and the surrounding area. Neglecting your teeth can have disastrous effects on both your oral and overall health. Call us today at 832-930-7727 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.
Signs of a Cracked Tooth
There are five main types of cracked teeth: craze lines, fractured cusps, treatable cracked (crown) teeth, split teeth, and vertical root fractures.
Craze lines are tiny cracks in the teeth’s enamel that do not cause any pain or require any treatment.
Fractured cusps are common around dental fillings. They typically do not affect the tooth’s pulp and, consequently, do not cause much pain. Your dentist will restore the tooth with a permanent crown. However, if the crack extends into the gum line or to the root of the tooth, there may be a need for extraction.
Cracked teeth (crown) extends from the chewing surface of the tooth towards the root. If the crack terminates in the crown, and if the pulp is not compromised, the treatment plan will be a crown, however, if the crack extends and the pulp is compromised, a root canal will be necessary. A cracked tooth that is left untreated will result in the need for extraction.
Split tooth is usually a result of a untreated cracked tooth and can never be as a single tooth. Procedures may be provided on multi-root teeth with the position and extent of the problem dictating the outcome of the treatment.
Vertical Root Fractures are cracks that cracks that begin below the gum line and travel upward. They generally do not produce any symptoms until they become infected, at which point the tooth will likely require extraction.
Understanding Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Cracked tooth syndrome is the phenomenon in which a patient’s tooth has a crack that is too small to identify on X-rays. Alternatively, the crack may be under the gum and, therefore, challenging to locate. It occurs most commonly in molars. The most common signs and symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome involve tooth sensitivity and pain or discomfort when biting. Unlike with a cavity, the pain associated with cracked tooth syndrome is not constant; it comes and goes instead.
Though there is no singular cause of cracked tooth syndrome, some populations are more at-risk than others. For example, patients who grind or clench their teeth, have malocclusions that result in putting too much pressure on one tooth, or have large fillings are all more likely to develop cracked tooth syndrome than others. Unfortunately, it is one of the most complicated dental problems to diagnose, meaning patients may have unexplained symptoms for months. Patients who suspect they may have cracked tooth syndrome should see an endodontist immediately, as prompt treatment can help preserve the tooth and minimize the risk of pain, infection and abscess formation.
Saving a Cracked Tooth
The best treatment option for saving a cracked tooth depends on the location of the crack and the extent of its damage. Some cracks may be small enough not to warrant any treatment and a need to monitor. Other cracked teeth may be repaired with a permanent restoration.
In more severe cases, the crack may penetrate the tooth’s pulp. When this happens, root canal treatment and crown may be necessary.
When a Cracked Tooth is Beyond Repair
Failure to treat a cracked tooth in time may eventually lead to pulp necrosis (also known as tissue death) and total tooth loss. This can have drastic effects not only on one’s oral health but also on their overall health. As such, patients should consult an endodontist as soon as they suspect they may have a cracked tooth. If the crack extends below the gum line, tooth extraction will become the only viable option. Early detection is key and in any case, it is always best to consult with an endodontist first.
Cracked Tooth Treatment Aftercare
It is important for patients to get the right kind of treatment they need for their cracked tooth. Otherwise, they run the risk of worsening the pain and having the crack spread. As has already been established, treatment options involve root canals, crown placements, and tooth extraction. Though these procedures may be followed by some pain or discomfort, it should be easily managed with over-the-counter or prescribed pain medications.
Cracked teeth differ from broken bones in that their fractures will not heal. In fact, some cracks may even continue to grow and separate. This may eventually lead to a total loss of the tooth. Crowns allow for maximum protection of the treated tooth. Unfortunately, however, they are not always foolproof.
Call Us Today
When it comes to cracked teeth, early detection can make all the difference. The team at Tranquility Dental Spa can help. Call us today at 832-930-7727 to schedule an appointment or learn more about our services.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a cracked tooth really a dental emergency?
Yes. Though some cracked teeth may be minor enough to not need treatment, only a professional can confirm that this is true for your specific case. Endodontists are specially qualified to diagnose and treat tooth pain and any conditions regarding the tooth pulp.
I hit my tooth, but nothing broke off. Should I still visit the endodontist?
Yes. Even hitting the tooth can cause damage you cannot see. If you have "invisible cracks," your tooth may be more likely to break or get crushed in day-to-day activities.
Can I prevent my teeth from cracking?
There are several preventive measures you can take to prevent their teeth from cracking. Refrain from chewing on any hard objects. Make a conscious effort to stop clenching or grinding the teeth. If this is an issue for you during the nighttime, ask your dentist about getting a nightguard to protect your teeth in your sleep. Protect yourself when playing contact sports.
Why do cracked teeth hurt?
Once the outer hard tissues of the tooth have cracked, the pulp may be irritated at any movement of the pieces. These pieces can be moved by chewing and similar activities. When you release the bite, the crack may close quickly. At that point, you will feel a sharp, momentary pain. This may happen many times.
Can cracked teeth repair themselves?
Yes. However, this occurs only on rare occasions and is only possible with small cracks on the outer layers of the teeth. This process is called remineralization.
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