Cracked Tooth, or dental fractures as they are formally known, are one of the most common injuries that can happen to your teeth and gums. They often result from an accident such as slipping or falling, but sometimes your tooth may crack even without any significant trauma whatsoever. Whatever the cause of the fracture, you must take care of it as soon as possible before it gets worse and causes further damage to your tooth and mouth. This article will help you understand what to do if you have a cracked tooth.
Causes of a Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Here are some of the most common reasons why people get chipped or cracked tooth syndrome;
- Wearing Braces – When you put on braces, sometimes pieces of food and plaque can get trapped and build up under the wire. This can cause tooth decay and lead to a crack in the tooth’s enamel.
- Grinding Your Teeth (Bruxism) – This is another common reason for cracked or chipped teeth. When you grind or clench your teeth, the pressure causes your enamel to weaken and break with repeated grinding.
- Hockey and Soccer Players – When playing sports such as hockey or soccer, if you don’t wear protective equipment such as a face shield or helmet, you’re more likely to receive devastating blows to the head. Sometimes, these hits can cause your teeth to chip or crack.
- Getting Hit in the Face with an Object – If you’re not careful when kicking a ball or throwing a punch. It’s possible for you to strike another person and hit their mouth with force, cracking or chipping their teeth.
Types of Cracked Teeth
There are five main types of cracked teeth that you should know of;
Cervical Cracked Tooth
This type of cracked tooth is also called a vertical crack. This is where you may have a vertical crack in tooth. It’s found at the bottom part of the tooth, near the gum line. The vertical crack in tooth is characterized by a lot of pain in the area. This is the most common type of cracked tooth, especially if you are more than forty years old.
Horizontal Cracked Tooth
A sudden impact to your jaw or a forced opening of your mouth causes this type of crack. It’s found on the chewing surface of your teeth, but it is more visible on the side parts of your teeth.
Multiple Cracks or Cracks with Separated Teeth
It’s composed of more than one crack. This type of fracture is caused by the forced opening of your mouth after a strong hit to it. Or by the rupture of one or more ligaments that support your teeth.
Cracks without Separation
This type of crack can be found on the chewing surface of your teeth. But it is more visible on the innermost side (the tongue side) of your teeth. This type of fracture often occurs from a strong force, such as being punched or kicked.
Cracks on Teeth Without Meaning
This type of fracture is usually painless and without symptoms. It’s found on your chewing surface, but it’s more visible on the side parts of your teeth. It’s caused mainly by a hit on your mouth, but it can also occur through normal use. Most people debate if it’s hairline cracks in teeth.
Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
Symptoms of cracked teeth may include:
- Sensitivity to temperature changes or from biting/chewing
- Pain when chewing, or just on one side of the mouth
- Fractured tooth or broken tooth
- Pus or drainage from the affected area
- Changes in coloration of the teeth
- hairline cracks in teeth
If you experience any of these cracked tooth syndrome, you should see your dentist right away.
Diagnosing a Cracked Tooth
Most patients who have a cracked tooth go to the dentist and schedule for either an extraction or a root canal cracked tooth procedure. However, if you have a tooth that has been cracked for more than six months, it’s important to get an X-ray of the area to determine the extent of the crack and whether the tooth can be salvaged. To diagnose a fractured tooth, it is imperative that you schedule an appointment with your dentist. You should not attempt to diagnose the crack yourself.
Imaging techniques will vary between dental practices, but most facilities can perform a standard X-ray. Sometimes, a special imaging technique may be required to better visualize the area. These techniques include cone beam computed tomography (CBCT), or an extraoral ultrasound.
What Are the Treatment Options?
If you get cracked teeth, you should see your dentist for an exam as soon as possible. In some cases, the tooth may be saved by cracked tooth filling to prevent further damage. Filling is also used for chipped tooth repair. If that’s not an option, your dentist may need to remove the tooth. But it will depend on the location of the crack. If you have an infection, your dentist may need to perform a root canal cracked tooth procedure.
What Are Possible Complications?
A cracked tooth can lead to a dental abscess. In some cases, you may have pain when eating or sleeping due to pressure on the cracked tooth. It can also be difficult to chew or speak. And, you may have bad breath or drooling if your cracked tooth is near your mouth. If a tooth is badly injured, you may have pain or swelling in your face.
In rare cases, an open fracture can cause a bone infection. In the short term, you may have difficulty chewing and speaking. If your tooth is badly broken, it can fall out on its own. If not, your dentist may need to remove the tooth or put in a dental implant if it’s possible for you to have one. In some cases, your dentist may need to pull all of your teeth and give you dentures or a bridge. This is called complete edentulism.
Why Does a Cracked Tooth Hurt?
A tooth, like most bones and organs in the human body, is living tissue. As we age we lose some of this tissue and it appears to be replaced by more dense, “dead” tissue. Teeth are not alive, but they do contain living cells. These cells receive nutrients from blood vessels in the pulp of the tooth. At the very center of a tooth lies a soft material called “pulp”. This pulp is vital because it contains blood vessels which provide nutrients to the tooth. These blood vessels are surrounded by nerves within the pulp, so pain can also be felt if you have damaged or exposed tooth nerve.
The enamel of a tooth is also important because it helps protect the pulp from being exposed to bacteria or to physical forces that could damage the tooth. The enamel is hard and very smooth which lessens friction as we chew our food. Most of a tooth is composed of dentin which is even harder than enamel. Dentin also contains small tubules that connect the pulp to the surface of the tooth.
When a tooth is cracked, there are a few possible causes. A crack in the enamel or dentin of a tooth can be caused by a direct blow to the tooth. The force of the blow can cause a small fracture in the surface of the tooth and this tends to be where the broken tooth pain originates. In either case, a cracked tooth hurts because there is a pressure or infection inside of it. The damaged or exposed tooth nerve sends broken tooth pain signals to the brain when stimulated.
Cost of Cracked Tooth Treatment
Cracked teeth can be treated by checking with your dentist to see if the crack can be filled. Cracked tooth filling involves filling the crack with a tooth-colored material. Your dentist may decide to use dental bonding for chipped tooth repair, in which tooth-colored material is applied directly to the tooth to cover any cracks or chips. Another cracked tooth treatment option is a dental crown, which covers the entire tooth surface and can be used to prevent further damage to the tooth.
The cost of tooth repair depends on the severity of the crack, but can range anywhere from $500 to well over $2,000 per tooth. Moreover, tooth repair costs of a cracked tooth depend on the procedure undertaken to fix the tooth.
What Can I Do to Prevent My Teeth from Cracking?
The following tips will help you prevent your teeth from cracking.
Relax while chewing
When you are tense, you tend to put undue pressure on your teeth, which increases the likelihood of them cracking. So make it a point to relax while chewing your food thoroughly.
Chew with both sides of your teeth
Instead of just chewing with your front set of teeth, using both sides in a regular interval is beneficial in preventing the chances of getting a cracked tooth.
Drink a lot of water to keep your teeth hydrated
Water is an excellent substitute for acidic drinks and it helps in keeping the teeth hydrated. So, stay away from acidic drinks and drink water to prevent getting a cracked tooth.
Get regular dental consultation
Visiting the dentist on a regular basis is highly advisable if you’re concerned about cracking your teeth. Even if there isn’t any issue, a regular dental consultation will ensure that your teeth remain healthy and strong.
Have a balanced diet
Balanced diet is necessary for a healthy lifestyle. Make it a point to include a lot of fruit and vegetables in your diet as they have properties that prevent getting a cracked tooth.
After Treatment for a Cracked Tooth, Will My Tooth Completely Heal?
A broken tooth may unite over a period of several months without the help of any specific treatment. However, if the damage is too severe or not treated in time, the tooth may need to get capped or crowned.