A cracked tooth can be caused by trauma, age, tooth grinding and other factors. Our Edmonton dentists offer insights into symptoms and potential treatment options.
What is a cracked tooth?
Frequently referred to as a fractured tooth, cracked tooth syndrome occurs when a small or large crack appears in your tooth. While the crack may sometimes be harmless. Other times it can cause your tooth to split or break.
Tooth fractures happen most commonly in children and older individuals. However, anyone can experience this dental emergency. See one of our dentists in Edmonton right away if you suspect a broken tooth.
What parts of a tooth can crack?
Teeth are made of two parts:
- The crown can be seen above the gumline.
- The root lies below your gums.
There are several layers within the crown and the root:
- Enamel - Hard, white outer surface.
- Dentin - Middle layer of the tooth.
- Pulp - Soft inner tissue that contains blood vessels and nerves.
Tooth fractures may impact some or all of these layers. How your dentist treats a cracked tooth will depend on where the fracture occurs and the severity of the fracture.
A broken tooth may feel sensitive or painful, while you may not experience any symptoms with some other fractures. See a dentist right away if you notice either, since the earlier you are treated, the better your chances of a repair being possible. The risk of further damage or complications may also be reduced with early treatment.
What causes a cracked tooth?
The most common causes of tooth fractures or cracked teeth include:
- Age - Many tooth cracks occur in people age 50 and older.
- Biting hard foods - Candy, ice or popcorn kernels can cause damage to teeth.
- Habits - Chewing gum, ice or objects such as pen caps can cause cracks in teeth.
- Dental Work - Large dental fillings or a root canal can weaken a tooth.
- Teeth Grinding - Cracks can occur when teeth are ground together.
- Trauma - Sports injuries, motor vehicle accidents, bike accidents, falls or physical violence can cause severe tooth damage or cracks.
What are cracked tooth symptoms?
While you may not always experience symptoms with a cracked tooth, there are some common ones to watch for. These include:
- Sensitivity to temperature changes or eating sweet candy or treats
- Pain that comes and goes but is rarely continuous
- Swelling of the gum surrounding the tooth
- Toothache when chewing or biting
If you feel any of the symptoms listed above, it's time to see your dentist as soon as possible. Since a cracked tooth can not only cause pain but lead to complications such as infection, we advise booking an appointment for a dental exam if sensitivity, swelling or pain are present.
If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, rinse with warm water to keep your mouth clean and use a cold compress on the outside of your cheek to prevent swelling.
Anti-inflammatory over-the-counter painkillers such as ibuprofen can reduce pain and swelling.
How is a cracked tooth diagnosed?
Not everyone with a cracked tooth will experience typical symptoms. To help diagnose a cracked tooth, your dentist will likely do the following:
- Visually examine your teeth for any tiny cracks. The dentist may use a magnifying lens.
- Feel for cracks by running a dental explorer over and around the tooth.
- Use a dental dye, which can make the crack stand out
- Probe your gums to check for inflammation. This technique is particularly helpful in identifying vertical cracks, which can irritate gums.
- Ask about your oral health history, such as whether you grind your teeth or chew on a lot of hard foods.
How to fix cracked teeth?
How your dentist chooses to fix or treat your cracked tooth or teeth will be determined by the size of the crack, its location, your symptoms and whether the crack extends into the gum line. Taking these factors into account, your dentist may recommend one of the following:
Some hairline cracks in tooth enamel don't affect the appearance of your teeth or lead to pain. In this case, your dentist may advise leaving them alone.
Can cracked teeth be prevented?
While a cracked tooth can't be treated at home, you can attempt to prevent one. Practicing good oral hygiene can help, since strong teeth are less likely to crack. Brush twice a day, floss daily and see your dentist every six months for preventive care. Avoid chewing on hard foods.
If you grind your teeth while you sleep, wear a mouth guard at night. Also, use one if you play contact sports.
Cracked Tooth Repair at Azarko Dental Group
Despite our best efforts to avoid them, dental issues can sometimes develop and affect our oral health.
Whether you have a cracked tooth or another problem that requires assessment and restorative care such as bonding, a crown, root canal or extraction, we are here to help address your questions and concerns.