With advanced technology, dentists are helping people retain their teeth longer. Because people are living longer and more stressful lives, habits such as clenching, grinding, and chewing on ice or other hard objects lead to more cracks in teeth.
How do I know if my tooth is cracked?
The cracked tooth presents with a variety of symptoms, which can include erratic pain when chewing, pain on release of biting, or pain when your tooth is exposed to extreme temperatures. The pain may come and go and there may be difficulty in locating which tooth is causing the discomfort.
How will my cracked tooth be treated?
The treatment and outcome for your cracked tooth depends upon the type, location and extent of the crack.
Craze lines are tiny cracks that affect only the outer enamel of the tooth. They are common in all adult teeth and cause no pain. Generally speaking, craze lines do not require treatment.
When a cusp or the pointed part of the chewing surface of your tooth becomes weakened, the cusp will fracture. Part of the cusp may break off or may need to be removed by your dentist. The pulp is rarely damaged by a fractured cusp. Root canal treatment is seldom required. Your tooth will usually be restored with a crown by your dentist.
The crack extends from the chewing surface of the tooth vertically towards the root. A cracked tooth is not completely split into two separate segments. Due to the location of the crack, damage to the pulp is common. Endodontic treatment is usually needed to treat the damaged pulp. A crown will then be placed to support and protect the cracked tooth. At times, the crack may extend below the gingival tissue requiring extraction.
A split tooth is a cracked tooth in which there are two distinct mobile segments. Very rarely can a split tooth cannot be saved. Extraction is usually required.
Vertical Root Fracture
Vertical root fractures typically occur in teeth that have had previous endodontic treatment. Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin in the root and extend toward the chewing surface. Very rarely can a tooth with a vertical root fracture be maintained. Extraction is usually recommended.
What can I do to prevent my teeth from cracking?
While cracked teeth are not completely preventable, steps can be taken to make your teeth less susceptible to cracks.
- avoid chewing on hard objects such as ice, popcorn kernels, pens, or hard candy
- if you clench or grind your teeth, visit with your dentist about an occlusal guard or night guard
- wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports