The tooth is made of a thick outer layer of enamel. The enamel is the strongest substance in the body. It helps your teeth do normal functions such as biting, chewing, and eating.
The strong enamel also protects the inside of your tooth, which is the tooth pulp. The pulp is the lifeline of the tooth, and it houses nerves and blood vessels necessary to help keep the tooth healthy.
But despite the tooth being extremely robust and reliable to withstand daily functions, it still has limitations. And when reached, your tooth can wear down. Among other things, this can result in cracked teeth.
Carry on reading to learn more about cracked teeth and how your dentist at Springbank Dental can help treat them.
Causes of Cracked Tooth
A cracked tooth may occur due to several reasons. It may range from years of wear and tear to harsh forces causing trauma. A cracked tooth may also result from teeth grinding, nail-biting, eating ice, careless consumption of hard and chewy foods, and even sudden extreme temperature changes that can weaken the tooth.
Depending upon the extent of the damage, the tooth affected, and the symptoms present, there are several types of cracked teeth that you may experience.
If you have a painless hairline fracture on the tooth surface, this is called a craze line. It is harmless as it only involves the outer enamel layer. But, if it causes a shallow dent on the tooth, it may collect stains, plaque, and bacteria that may cause problems later on.
A small craze line can actually be left untreated. But, most patients consider it a cosmetic issue. To repair it, your dentist may consider the following:
- Enameloplasty – to shave off the small enamel line fracture and create a seamless surface
- Veneers – to camouflage the dent and repair the tooth
Your back tooth or molars have areas that slope up and down called cusps. They help grind your food into pieces so you can eat them easily. However, if you eat hard food often or are a frequent teeth grinder, these cusps may naturally weaken and eventually fracture. Extensive tooth decay that has compromised the strength of the tooth may also cause a fractured cusp.
A fractured cusp can range from a small chip to a large dent. Your dentist may recommend the following treatments respectively for minor to extensive damage:
- Composite build-up – to restore the cusp using regular white fillings
- Onlay – to replace the cusp with a stronger, more long-lasting material
- Root canal and crown – to remove the infected pulp, restore the tooth’s health, and rebuild its structure and function
This is an incomplete tooth fracture that extends from the biting surface of the tooth down toward the root. Because the damage is inside the tooth, spotting a cracked tooth at first glance is rare. An X-ray is necessary to help your dentist correctly diagnose it.
If you present with symptoms such as sensitivity to extreme heat and cold, pain upon biting or chewing, and unidentified and lingering tooth pain, visit your dentist at Sierra Dental as soon as possible to check for a possible cracked tooth.
After an X-ray is taken to assess the tooth, your dentist can identify if the tooth is still treatable or not. It can still be treated if the crack is confined to the tooth crown. For this, a root canal and a crown are included in an ideal treatment plan.
But if it extends down to the root, tooth extraction is a better option to avoid further complications.
A complete fracture of the tooth that causes it to completely separate into two is called a split tooth. This may also happen if a cracked tooth is left untreated.
Unfortunately, it is rare for a split tooth to be saved. The break in the tooth may cause bacteria to lodge and cause infection. But if still possible, your dentist may recommend a root canal and a crown.
Some dentists may also consider a hemisection. For this treatment, a perfectly split tooth may be preserved as two separate structures to prevent having to extract it.
Vertical root fracture
If the fracture line of a cracked tooth begins from the root up to the biting surface, this is called a vertical root fracture. This may happen with severe tooth trauma or on a severely weak tooth after treatment with a root canal.
Most cases involving vertical root fracture teeth can only be diagnosed with an X-ray. And usually, patients do not complain about it until the tooth and gums surrounding are infected.
A vertical root fracture has a poor prognosis as infection may quickly spread from the opening on the end of the root. Because of this, treatment is almost always tooth extraction.
A minor type of cracked tooth is a chipped tooth. This involves a small nick on the tooth enamel, usually on the front teeth. It does not usually affect the tooth pulp, so it should be painless. Because of this, patients do not seek treatment right away.
However, the area may feel rough on the tongue. So, for cosmetic and comfort reasons, your dentist may recommend treatments such as:
- Cosmetic bonding – to reshape the tooth using natural-coloured fillings
- Veneers – to fully restore the size, shape, and colour of the tooth
No matter how small or big the size of a cracked tooth is, immediate consultation with a dental professional is necessary to prevent future problems. Some cracked teeth are not visible with just clinical inspection, so your dentist’s help is essential for proper diagnosis and treatment.
If you are experiencing any signs and symptoms of cracked teeth, such as:
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages
- Pain when biting and chewing
- Infection on the gum
- Lingering toothache
Do not let it worsen! Schedule us a visit at Sierra Dental as soon as possible and let our team of expert dentists relieve you of pain and restore your tooth to optimal health.