A cracked tooth can happen for several reasons. Sometimes it’s due to trauma, sometimes it’s due to the aging process, and sometimes it’s due to inadequate structural integrity of the tooth. No matter the reason, the results of a cracked tooth can be serious. A crack can cause an infection, the loss of a tooth, the need for an extraction, or the need for a root canal. What can be done for a cracked tooth? Please read on for the answer.
What Causes A Tooth To Crack?
The following are some of the reasons a tooth can crack:
- Bruxism, or tooth grinding: Bruxism exerts tremendous pressure on the teeth and the grinding motion can cause them to crack.
- Biting into or chewing hard surfaces: Chewing ice is particularly bad, but hard candy or or nuts can also damage the teeth.
- Fillings that are too large: A large filling can weaken the structural integrity of a tooth and cause it to crack.
- Sudden temperature changes: A sudden change from hot to cold or cold to hot can cause the teeth to crack.
- Trauma: A blow to the face or jaw can crack one or more teeth even if the teeth aren’t directly impacted.
- The aging process: Many adults who are over the age of 50 suffer tooth cracks.
Are All Cracks The Same?
Different types of cracks can occur in teeth, such as:
- Crazing cracks
- Fractured cusps
- Split tooth
- Vertical cracks
- Vertical fractures
Any of these types of cracks except the crazing cracks will need to be repaired by a dentist. Crazing lines are extremely small cracks in the enamel. They aren’t painful and won’t interfere with the function of your teeth. However, if they expand, then you’ll need to get professional attention so they don’t cause a tooth infection.
A fractured cusp involves a filling, so it doesn’t reach the innermost area of the tooth. It isn’t painful, so you may be unaware of its presence.
If you have a split tooth, you’ll have a crack that extends from the surface of the tooth to below the gumline. It will split the tooth into two sections and probably require an extraction, although your dentist may be able to salvage some of it if you detect it soon enough.
If a vertical crack goes into the gum line, you may need an extraction. If you notice the crack before it reaches the gum line, then your dentist can probably save the tooth if the crack is treated promptly.
A vertical fracture begins at the root of the tooth and extends upward. It often presents without symptoms, so you may be unaware that you have it unless it develops an infection. Either way, you’ll probably need an extraction.
Are There Symptoms Of A Cracked Tooth?
If you have a cracked tooth, you’ll probably experience the following symptoms:
- Intermittent pain
- Pain when you bite or chew
- Swollen gums around the cracked tooth
- Temperature sensitivity
How Is A Cracked Tooth Diagnosed?
If you think you have a cracked tooth, then your dentist will visually inspect your teeth. They may also feel the tooth to see if they can detect a crack. They’ll ask questions about your chewing habits. They may use dental dye to determine if you have a crack, or take an x-ray, or you may be asked to bite down to determine if there’s any pain.
What Are The Treatments For A Cracked Tooth?
Several factors will determine the type of treatment your dentist suggests, such as the size and location of the crack, your symptoms, and the severity of the crack. Treatment protocols include:
- Dental bonding: This uses plastic resin to fill the crack and restore the aesthetics and functionality of the tooth.
- Dental crown: A crown is an artificial tooth made of ceramic or porcelain and it covers the entire tooth. The entire procedure for getting a crown can span several weeks but you’ll be provided with a temporary crown in the interim.
- Extraction: If your tooth is severely damaged, your dentist may recommend an extraction.
- Root canal: If your crack has reached the pulp of your tooth, your dentist may refer you to a specialist for a root canal. This will remove any infection that may be in the tooth and will prepare it for an artificial tooth if that’s your choice.
- No treatment: If you have very small cracks, your dentist may recommend that you have no treatment unless the cracks become larger.
Are There Complications From A Cracked Tooth?
If you have a severely cracked tooth, you may experience a fever and swelling, inflammation, bad breath, pain, and temperature sensitivity. If you have any or all of these symptoms, you should consult your dentist for treatment.
Can I Prevent A Cracked Tooth?
Cracked teeth aren’t usually treatable at home, but you can prevent their occurrence. Maintain good oral hygiene that includes brushing and flossing at least twice daily and have semi-annual dental checkups and cleanings. Don’t bite into hard foods or chew on them. If you play sports, then wear a mouth guard. If you think you’ve cracked a tooth, schedule an appointment with your dentist without delay.
Is It Expensive To Treat A Cracked Tooth?
The cost of treating a cracked tooth will depend on the degree of treatment needed, where you live, and your insurance coverage. On the average, however:
- Dental bonding costs between $100 to $1,000
- A crown runs from $1,000 to $1,500 per crown
- A root canal costs from $500 to $2,000
- An extraction costs between $150 and $200
If you have a damaged or cracked tooth and you live in the Los Angeles area, then call the emergency dental office of Dr. Bruce Vafa at (424) 253-5152. We know that cracked teeth often occur outside of regular business hours, so we’re available 24/7 for dental emergencies. We’re one of the best in the Los Angeles area for repairing cracked teeth, so give us a call if you need tooth repair.