AS STRONG AS OUR teeth are, they aren’t invincible. Accidents happen, and sometimes they result in a cracked tooth, or the cracks could be the result of a gradual effect. Whatever the cause, we want to make sure our patients can recognize different types of cracks in teeth so they know what to do if one appears.
Cracked Teeth: Symptoms And Effects
Symptoms of a cracked tooth may include pain when chewing and sensitivity to extreme temperatures. Chewing with a cracked tooth can cause the sides of the crack to shift, irritating the pulp within. When biting pressure is released, it can cause the crack to close, producing a sudden, sharp pain.
If left untreated, the crack can damage the pulp, resulting in continuous tooth pain. It may even lead to infection, which can spread to the surrounding bone and gum tissues. There are several different types of cracks, and the severity of the damage determines the type of treatment needed.
Craze lines are tiny cracks affecting only the enamel. They are common in adults and rarely threaten the health of the tooth. However, they can affect its appearance. While cosmetic options like bleaching can reduce their visibility, a more effective long-term solution is to discover the cause (often bruxism or an ice chewing habit) and eliminate it.
If a cusp (point) of a tooth weakens, it could result in a fracture. The damaged cusp might break off on its own or be removed by a dentist and restored with a crown. Fractured cusps rarely damage the pulp, so root canal treatment usually won’t be necessary.
Treatable Cracked Tooth
In some cases, a crack will extend from the tooth’s chewing surface down towards the root, sometimes reaching below the gumline. This type of crack should be treated quickly, because the pulp can easily become damaged. If it does, only root canal treatment can save the tooth.
A cracked tooth that goes untreated long enough will become a split tooth, identifiable by its distinct segments. A split tooth cannot be saved intact even with root canal treatment, but the position and extent of the damage will determine what can be done for the tooth. In some cases, endodontic re-treatment paired with a restoration by the dentist can save a portion of the tooth.
Vertical Root Fracture
Some fractures begin at the tooth’s root rather than the crown and extend towards the chewing surface. There are generally minimal symptoms with vertical root fractures, so they can easily go unnoticed. Endodontic surgery can sometimes save a portion of the tooth by extracting the fractured root. If not, extraction will be necessary.
Bring That Cracked Tooth To The Professionals
If you think you might have a cracked tooth, even if it’s as simple as craze lines, it’s a good idea to schedule an appointment with us. For a serious crack, we can quickly treat it and save part or all of the tooth, and for more minor issues, we can recommend what to do next so that the problem doesn’t get worse.