Chipped, cracked, and broken teeth aren’t problems that only tough athletes or brawlers have to deal with. Anyone can end up with damaged teeth when they meet common household accidents or bite down on hard food.
If your teeth ever get damaged, you can avoid infection or further damage simply by meeting with your dentist right away. They’ll prescribe painless and easy restorative treatments that can make any damaged tooth look as good as new.
How Do I Know If My Tooth Is Cracked?
Pain is usually the best sign of severely cracked teeth. Cracks that don’t go beyond the surface enamel are usually painless as they don’t affect any blood vessels or nerves. On the other hand, cracks that have exposed the dentin and pulp of a tooth often cause pain and discomfort.
The pain from a cracked tooth isn’t usually continuous or long-lasting. It mainly surfaces when you try to chew or bite food, or when your tooth is exposed to severe temperatures. You can also feel pain at random times of the day, then experience some relief followed by even more bouts of pain.
Your gums can also be affected by a cracked tooth. They can become swollen and painful when bacteria infect the pulp of an exposed inner tooth. The pus that forms when your body tries to fight off this infection can also cause severe pain and swelling to the gums surrounding the affected tooth.
Types of Cracked Teeth
The severity of a cracked tooth can also depend on the kind of damage that has occurred. These are the most common types of cracked teeth.
- Craze Lines: You aren’t likely to feel any pain or suffer any infections from craze lines. These affect only the surface enamel, and not any part of the inner tooth. Most craze lines can occur due to trauma from bruxism or everyday physical activities.
- Fractured Cusp: This type of damage occurs when bits and pieces of the surface of teeth break off due to trauma. Although fractured cusps don’t usually affect the inner tooth, they can result in pain due to increased sensitivity if left untreated. Pain can also occur while chewing, but it can easily go away once the fractured area of the tooth is removed.
- Cracked Tooth: Cracks that form from the surface towards the root of a tooth can result in pain and infection. The pulp inside of teeth can also become prone to bacterial infection when protective enamel is cracked and damaged. If the crack has affected the gum line, the damaged tooth will need to be extracted.
- Split Tooth: This is usually the result of untreated cracked teeth. When cracks aren’t repaired right away, they split the tooth into two distinct segments. In most cases of a split tooth, any parts that can no longer be restored or salvaged have to be extracted from the affected tooth.
- Vertical Root Fracture: These cracks don’t form on the outer enamel. Instead, they start in the root then move their way up to the surface of teeth. Most signs of vertical root fracture include pain (that might not be felt until the gum and bone have become infected), problems with chewing and eating, and the formation of gum pockets.
What Should I Do If My Tooth Is Cracked?
It’s vital to treat a cracked tooth with first aid right away. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends rinsing your mouth with warm water in order to clean the affected area. You should also use a cold compress to reduce any swelling.
In order to prevent any further damage or pain, it’s best to avoid trying to move or remove any part of the affected tooth. It’s also best not to bite on anything using the affected tooth to prevent damaging or infecting the exposed pulp.
What Are My Treatment Options?
Most cases of cracked teeth can easily be treated with proper dental intervention. Visiting your dentist right away is the best way to prevent any cracks from causing severe damage or infection to your teeth and gums. The treatment your dentist will prescribe will depend on how badly your tooth has been damaged.
- Bonding: Bonding is a quick and painless procedure that involves filling in any gaps and cracks on the surface of teeth with plastic resin. This treatment is usually done to restore the shape and color of damaged, discolored, and misshapen teeth.
- Cosmetic Contouring: This is another procedure done to repair small chips and cracks on teeth. It mainly involves removing small sections of surface enamel in order to restore the original shape of damaged teeth, then polishing the surface to improve its appearance.
- Veneers: Veneers are often used if a huge chunk of the affected tooth has been spared from any serious damage. During this procedure, your dentist will fit veneers made using porcelain or plastic material over the surface of your tooth. There’s no need to have veneers be regularly replaced or adjusted as they can last for up to 30 years with proper care.
- Crowns: These are mainly used in cases where veneers aren’t enough to repair a damaged tooth. While veneers are made to fit the surfaces of teeth, crowns are meant to fit like a cap over the remaining portion of a damaged tooth. Crowns also ensure that your teeth remain strong and durable enough to chew food.