Cracked or Broken Teeth
How can I tell if I have a cracked tooth?
Sometimes cracked teeth can be difficult to spot and the symptoms will vary. You may get pain from time to time when you are chewing, especially when you release the biting pressure. Often times icy drinks or sugary beverages cause immediate discomfort. You may also notice swelling of the gums near the affected tooth.
Do all teeth crack in the same way?
No. Teeth can crack in several different ways, sometimes the cracks are visible, sometimes cracks can only be determined by specific kinds of tests that tell us a crack is evident.
- Cracked tooth: This is when a crack runs from the biting surface of the tooth down towards the root. Sometimes it goes below the gum line and into the root. A cracked tooth is not usually split into two parts but the soft, inner tissue of the tooth is usually damaged. In most cases, cracked teeth will need to be removed.
- Craze lines: These are tiny cracks that affect only the outer enamel of the tooth. They are common in all adult teeth and cause no pain. Craze lines don’t usually need treatment.
- Cracked cusp: The cusp is the pointed part of the biting surface of the tooth. If a cusp becomes damaged, the tooth is extremely vulnerable to breaking down further. You will usually get a sharp pain in that tooth when biting. Immediate treatment is recommended.
- Split tooth: This is often the result of an untreated cracked tooth. The tooth splits into two parts. Vertical root fractures are cracks that start in the root and go up towards the biting surface. Split teeth need to be removed.
Why do teeth crack?
- Extreme tooth grinding or clenching, which can put the teeth under enormous pressure.
- Large plastic or silver fillings that weaken the tooth.
- Chewing or biting on something hard such as ice, hard candies, or nuts
- Trauma to the face or lower jaw.
- Gum disease, if there has been bone loss. This could make the teeth more likely to suffer from root fractures.
- Sudden changes in mouth temperature. Just like the concrete in your driveway, extreme changes in temperature can lead to cracks. Often times large tooth-colored or silver fillings will expand and contract with the hot and cold beverages we drink on a daily basis. This constant change of temperature can lead to fractures in those fillings.
Will I need to have treatment
Maybe. It is important to get advice as soon as possible to help the treatment be more effective. If they are not treated, cracked teeth can lead to the death of the nerve, and an abscess might grow. The tooth could need root canal treatment or even need to be removed. In severe cases the tooth can actually split in two. If this happens, the best option is usually to extract the tooth and to place an implant.