A cracked tooth is definitely something to worry about.
Teeth that are cracked badly may leave no option but to extract them. Superficial cracks can degrade so If you crack a tooth, it’s important to have it looked at as a matter of urgency by your dentist.
There are different types of cracks and not all of them are easy to spot. How do cracks form?
- Crunching on a hard lollie
- Chewing ice
A tooth with a hairline crack may not give you any pain – But what if that crack starts to grow? By the time you do start to notice the pain, it may be too late to save the tooth. Discovering cracks in your teeth is one reason why paying regular visits to the dentist for check-ups is so important. Cracks don’t always show up on x-rays, but your dentist can spot hairline cracks using high-intensity lights.
If your dentist does spot a crack in your tooth, what can they do about it?
Well let’s start with the most inoffensive first. Craze lines are very thin fractures in the surface of the enamel. A lot of us have them and they’re nothing to worry about. No treatment required.
A step up from craze lines is a cracked cusp. This is how dentists describe part of the outer tooth breaking off. A cracked cusp will cause some pain when you are eating, but the inner part of the tooth – the pulp and nerves – remains undamaged. It is usually repaired by your dentist using some dental bonding or, if the cusp is only slightly cracked, by some straightforward cosmetic re-shaping of the tooth’s edges.
However if crack forms from the top down towards the root, more extensive treatment is needed. This type of crack means that the inner core of the tooth is exposed so it is open to infection, likely to trap food debris and attract bacteria. Depending on how long the crack has been there, there may be some decay which your dentist needs to clean up and clear away. Then, if any of the teeth can be salvaged, a crown will need to be fitted to protect the remaining parts of the tooth in future.
What happens if you fail to treat a cracked tooth?
Often, given enough time, the cracked tooth will split completely. This will cause constant pain until the tooth is extracted as it is not possible to repair a split tooth. Many dentists believe that grinding your teeth in your sleep weakens them and makes the more likely to crack. So if you do grind your teeth, it may be the case that you should wear a mouth guard at night to protect your teeth. It helps if you are careful about what you eat too. However, the most important action you can take is probably to seek early treatment.