Cracked teeth are more common than you may realise, but you don’t have to put up with the discomfort or inconvenience they cause you. They are not only irritating in your day-to-day life, but they can also be unsightly, and this can affect your confidence.
At Kennett Road Dental Practice, we understand how something as simple as a cracked tooth can cause you severe distress and we’re always happy to treat and advise you on your individual situation. In the meantime, though, here is everything you need to know about cracked teeth in case you or someone you know has one, or in case one of your teeth cracks in the future. Like we say, it happens more often than you might think.
What is a cracked tooth?
Essentially a cracked tooth is one which has become broken in some way. There are different types of cracks you can experience in your teeth and not all teeth crack in the same way. Levels of pain and discomfort can vary enormously and they can lead to an increased risk of bacteria entering the nerve of the tooth causing further oral health problems.
What are the different types?
There are many ways your tooth can crack but the main types of cracked or broken teeth we see are:
- Cracked tooth: This is when a crack goes from the biting surface of the tooth towards the root. The tooth will not be split into two halves, but the sensitive dentine will usually be damaged and irritated if a crack has occurred.
- Craze lines: These are very small cracks to the outer enamel and are common in adult teeth. They do not cause pain and require no treatment. Occasionally through staining, these craze lines can become visible and can cause embarrassment and a loss of confidence. If this is the case, you should absolutely talk to your dentist about how they can help, even though you’re not in pain.
- Cracked cusp: The cusp is the pointed part of the biting surface of the tooth. If a cusp (or corner) becomes damaged, the tooth could break. If a cusp is cracked, you will usually experience a sharp pain in that tooth when biting.
- Vertical root fracture: This is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth, and it happens when the tooth splits into two halves from the biting surface through to the root. This tooth will need to be extracted.
How can it happen?
There are several ways that a tooth can become cracked, including tooth grinding which can put teeth under extreme pressure if it is severe enough. Biting down on hard foods such as ice or boiled sweets can cause a tooth to crack. Also, if you bite something hard in your food that is unexpected such as a fruit stone or meat bone, this can cause a tooth to crack.
Sudden changes in mouth temperature can also cause tooth damage in a similar way to how outdoor pipes may crack in the winter when temperatures change suddenly. So, eating very cold or hot foods can exacerbate a crack or even cause one. Sharp trauma or a sudden blow to the face, chin or jaw can cause a tooth to crack or chip. Other oral treatments or issues can also contribute to a tooth cracking. Teeth with large fillings, for example will not be quite as strong as a tooth without a filling. They are, however, stronger than a tooth with a large cavity with no filling, so fear of your tooth cracking is not a reason to avoid getting a filling. At Kennett Dental we use white (composite) filling material to restore teeth which bonds to the tooth structure, thereby reinforcing it and protecting it.
What can I do about it?
Teeth can break and crack under all sorts of circumstances. The important thing to remember is to get the tooth looked at quickly. Especially so if it is causing you any pain or discomfort while eating as that means the tooth may not be stable or able to continue undergoing the stresses of eating for long without further problems occurring.
We understand that some people would rather put up with the pain than go and see a dentist and while we shall try not to be offended, we do understand. People can be anxious about visiting the dentist for all sorts of reasons and one of the main ones is a fear of needing treatments or further appointments. To that, we say that you are far more likely to need further treatments if you avoid getting a crack or a suspected crack checked out by a professional. As we have mentioned, the likely outcome of a cracked tooth when left untreated is eventually a split tooth. If you wouldn’t put off getting a crack in your windscreen seen to, then we don’t advise you avoid getting a cracked, chipped, or broken tooth seen to. Both cracks, if ignored can lead to a worse situation than the one you’re in now. Just like the windscreen, your tooth won’t heal itself. It needs professional help.
For more information on cracked teeth, you can check out this page on the Oral Health Foundation’s website. Or to book an appointment with one of our friendly dental care specialists at Kennett Road Dental Practice you can find our contact details here. We want you to achieve your best possible smile and we are always here to give dental advice that is clear and helpful.