Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, so your teeth are built to last. They are designed to be used to rip, chew, and tear. Unfortunately, unlike bones, teeth have no way of repairing the damage done to them.
There are many ways your teeth can become cracked, requiring endodontic treatment. You may crack your tooth by chewing on something hard, like ice or hard candy. Teeth can also be damaged by bad habits like uneven chewing or teeth grinding, which slowly wear away at the teeth over time. Teeth that are continuously exposed to extreme variations in temperature, such as ice cream and hot coffee, may crack. Teeth with crowns or filling are also more vulnerable to damage like cracks. You can prevent cracked teeth by avoiding chewing hard objects and wearing protective mouth gear when playing contact sports.
Cracked Tooth Diagnosis
Knowing if you have a cracked tooth may be harder than you think. Some cracks, even severe ones, are totally invisible to the naked eye. They may not even appear on x-rays! Cracked teeth typically cause intermittent pain that becomes worse when chewing or putting pressure on your teeth.
Pain may intensify when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold. This discomfort can be significant, but it’s usually difficult to tell where exactly in your mouth it’s coming from. You may not experience any pain at all until your cracked tooth is noticed during a routine exam.
Pain should be managed with over-the-counter analgesics until you are able to see your endodontist. Do not use topical analgesics, herbal remedies, or crushed aspirin to treat the pain.
Cracked Tooth Treatment
The treatment will depend on the size and location of the crack, as well as the symptoms experienced by the patient. Some cracks, called craze lines, are small and superficial, affecting only the enamel of the teeth. These typically cause no symptoms and require no treatment.
A fractured cusp refers to a tooth where part of the chewing surface has detached from the tooth. This usually occurs where there was previously a filling. They can typically be repaired by placing a new crown or filling over the affected area.
Chips are another common type of tooth damage, but these are usually less serious and much more easily repaired. Have it treated as soon as possible to prevent the problem from growing worse.
Other cracks are more serious and require treatment by an endodontist. These cracks typically extend down from the chewing surface toward the root, exposing the tooth pulp. These cracks will continue to worsen over time until they extend into the pulp of the tooth. At this point, the crack is treated with a root canal. The tooth is then finished with a crown to prevent further damage.
The earlier the crack is detected, the more likely it is that the tooth will be able to be saved. If the crack extends below the line of the gums, it will have to be extracted. If the crack separates the tooth into two distinct pieces, it is called a split tooth. These cannot be repaired and have a poor prognosis.
Cracked teeth will not repair themselves, but they can sometimes be saved with appropriate endodontic treatment. A crown will likely be placed over the affected tooth for maximum protection in the future. This should allow your tooth to function as normal for years to come. If you’re concerned that you may have a cracked tooth, don’t hesitate. Cracks in your teeth are likely to worsen over time and may make you vulnerable to infections and complications. Contact our office about beginning treatment today.