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Cracked teeth

A cracked tooth is a damaged tooth often resulting from a crack. Cracked teeth can occur in different ways, which may affect the symptoms, if any and treatments.

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Types of teeth crack

The teeth can crack in the following ways.

  • Cracked tooth

This is when the crack runs from the biting tooth surface towards the root. Sometimes, the crack can extend below the gum line into the root. A cracked tooth isn't split into parts, but the softer tissue in the tooth is often damaged.

  • Craze lines

Craze lines are small cracks affecting only the tooth's outer area (enamel). They often affect all adults and do not cause pain. Treatment isn't necessary for craze lines.

  • Cracked cusp

The cusp is the pointed area of the tooth's biting surface. If the cusp gets damaged, the tooth may break. This may cause a sharp pain in the tooth when biting down.

  • Split tooth

The tooth may split from an untreated cracked tooth, which separates the tooth into two. A vertical tooth fracture starts in the root and extends towards the biting surface.

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Why do teeth crack?

Different things can crack the teeth, such as:

  • Severe tooth grinding, which can apply a lot of pressure on the teeth
  • Large fillings that weaken the tooth
  • Biting or chewing hard things like fruit stones, meat bones, ice or boiled sweets
  • A blow to the lower jaw or chin
  • Sudden changes in mouth temperature
  • Gum disease, which leads to bone loss, increases the risk of root fractures

How will I know I have a cracked tooth?

The signs of a cracked tooth are often difficult to notice, and the symptoms vary. You may experience pain frequently when chewing, particularly when you release the biting pressure. Extreme temperatures, especially cold, can cause discomfort. Sensitivity to sweetness without signs of decay and swelling in a small gum area close to the affected tooth are possible symptoms.

If you experience severe pain, take pain relief medication suitable for a headache. Ensure you consult your pharmacist or doctor if you are taking any other medication.

Why do cracks not show on dental X-rays?

Dental X-rays may not show a cracked tooth, and this often occurs because the X-ray beam has to be parallel to the crack to penetrate it. In some cases, the crack can cause other signs.

If you have a vertical root fracture with a long-term crack, the vertical bone loss near the root will be visible. Your dentist may use a magnifying glass or bright light to check for the crack. Another option is using a special dye to trace the crack.

Is treatment necessary?

Yes, it is. Visiting your dentist immediately will ensure you get the most effective treatment. If untreated, cracked teeth can cause the death of nerves in the tooth and abscesses over time. The tooth may require root canal treatment or removal.

In severe cases where the tooth splits into two parts, the dentist may be unable to save the tooth.

Will I lose my teeth?

In some cases, tooth removal is the only option, so getting immediate treatment is necessary.

Treatment for cracked teeth

The treatment for cracked teeth will depend on the severity of the damage to the tooth. Treatment options include:

  • Bonding

Bonding involves using plastic resin to fill the crack on the tooth. This treatment option helps to repair a small chip on the biting edge of the tooth. Teeth bonding can also restore the shape of a damaged tooth.

  • Cosmetic contouring

Cosmetic contouring is suitable when the chip is small. The dentist will smoothen the rough edges of the tooth and polish them to cover the crack.

  • Veneers

Dental veneers are ideal when a good amount of the tooth is remaining because they can last longer and require removing a small amount of the tooth. A dental veneer is a thin layer of plastic or porcelain materials made to cover the front tooth surface.

  • Crowns

A dentist can fit a crown on a tooth that a veneer cannot fix. The crown fits over the remaining tooth, strengthening and restoring the natural appearance.

You may need root canal treatment if the nerve is infected or damaged. A root canal treatment involves removing all infections from the tooth root. The dentist will clean the root and fill the area to prevent further infection, then fit a crown to support the tooth.

After treating a cracked tooth, will the tooth heal completely?

A cracked tooth cannot heal completely. After your treatment, the crack may worsen, and you may still lose the tooth. However, getting treatment is still important because most cracked teeth can remain functional for several years following treatment. Your dentist will inform you of the treatment you need.

Can I prevent further teeth cracking?

Not completely, but you can take certain precautions, such as:

  • Avoid chewing or biting on hard objects
  • Wear a mouth guard if you grind your teeth while sleeping to help protect your teeth. A custom-made mouthguard is also necessary if you play sports.

What is the cost of treatment for cracked teeth?

The cost of treatment will depend on the treatment needed. Extra costs may apply if you have complications and need further treatment. You can ask your dental care provider about your treatment plan and a written estimated cost before your treatment.

At McKennell Dental Practice, we will gladly provide you with an estimate for your cracked teeth treatment after a thorough dental exam to check for areas with cracks. Call us today on 020 7834 8802 to schedule an appointment.

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