While your teeth are strong, they can crack under certain conditions. Moreover, a cracked tooth can lead to serious discomfort and sensitivity. Because cracked teeth do not heal themselves as broken bones do, you want to avoid things that can lead to cracked teeth and seek treatment immediately if you believe you have a cracked tooth! Therefore, you must know what causes teeth to crack to protect yourself from these situations and help keep your teeth healthy.
Tooth cracks take many forms based on their severity and location. While you can see some cracks, others happen in hidden places, though they may still cause intermittent discomfort.
The most minor are craze lines, which only affect the outermost layer of the enamel. Almost all adults have craze lines on their teeth. However, these shallow cracks do not cause problems and, likewise, do not require treatment.
More serious cracks include cracks that start from the biting surface and extend toward the root. The crack does not bisect the tooth, even if it extends to the gumline. However, the tissue inside the tooth often sustains damage and requires endodontic treatment.
Fractured cusps of the teeth happen on the curved biting portion of molars. These types of cracks may cause pain, especially when biting down.
Lastly, the worst type of crack is when a simple crack remains untreated and worsens. This type of crack needs prompt care due to the discomfort and potential complications it can cause.
Some cracks can become serious if they extend or involve the root surface below the gum line. Vertical root fractures start at the root and move toward the tooth crown. You may need a tooth extraction for root cracks due to the extent of damage and discomfort.
The causes of cracked teeth include teeth grinding and biting on hard surfaces. In fact, many reasons that people crack teeth can be prevented by not using your teeth for anything other than chewing food. Cracks may happen when people try to rip open packages or open beer bottles with their teeth. Avoiding these situations and protecting your teeth when they could suffer impacts can help you to avoid the discomfort of cracked teeth.
Occasional grinding of your teeth may happen during times of intense stress. But, prolonged or intense grinding may lead to cracks in one or more teeth.
Teeth grinding, known as bruxism, may happen during the day or at night. However, nighttime teeth grinding is more difficult to stop because you do not realize you are doing it.
If you wake up with pain or soreness in your jaw, talk to your dentist about a nightguard to wear while you sleep to protect the biting surfaces of your teeth from the pressure of grinding.
Your teeth are not bottle openers or tools! Using them to pry open containers could cause cracks. Chewing on pens and pencils can do the same. If you have a nervous habit of chewing on non-food items, find alternatives to chewing when upset such as squeezing a stress ball.
Similarly, you could crack a tooth by biting down on hard foods such as ice, bones, hard candies, or unpopped popcorn kernels. You should also carefully watch the food that you eat for hard bits that could harm your teeth. Instead of taking large handfuls of popcorn, eat a few popped kernels at a time to reduce the chances of biting into an unpopped piece. Also, cut meat away from bones first before eating to avoid biting into a bone piece.
If you had a large filling in the past, the tooth might be weaker and more prone to cracking from other causes. Use extra care and schedule regular dental checkups to monitor for cracks in teeth with large fillings.
Playing sports comes with several risks, especially to your teeth and mouth. A blow to your mouth or jaw from contact sports can cause teeth to crack. To protect your teeth during play, always wear a sports mouthguard, especially if you engage in activities such as football, soccer, volleyball, or basketball.
Temperature extremes can cause teeth to expand and contract. When your teeth experience a rapid change from heat to cold, the physical changes caused by the temperatures can lead to a crack. A similar phenomenon occurs in nature with rocks that can crack when exposed to hot and cold temperatures in rapid succession. Give your teeth a rest between hot drinks or foods and icy ones. For instance, try to avoid drinking hot coffee and eating ice cream without waiting between the two.
Cracked teeth cause many problems both before treatment and if you neglect to get care. Initially, you may notice discomfort on a cracked tooth’s biting surface. Or, you may notice extra sensitivity in a single tooth, especially to heat and cold. Often, people may not notice a cracked tooth because the discomfort will not be constant. However, you still need to have an endodontist evaluate and treat your tooth.
Left untreated, a cracked tooth can worsen until it causes a split in the tooth or causes damage inside the tooth’s tissues. Internal damage to the tooth pulp may require a root canal to save the tooth.
Treatment for cracked teeth depends on the crack’s severity and how much of the tooth sustained damage. An endodontist may need to provide root canal therapy to save the tooth. Bonding and crowns are possible options that the endodontist may recommend to restore the tooth’s function.
If you have a cracked tooth, ask your dentist for a referral to our office at Innovative Endodontics. As specialists in treating the problem and doing everything that we can to save the tooth. We’re here to help you in many ways, from treating cracks in your teeth to helping you to recognize what causes teeth to crack to avoid the issue in the future. If you live near Summerville, Goose Creek, or Moncks Corner, SC, contact us for more information.