Cracked Teeth

With their more sophisticated procedures, dentists are helping people keep their teeth longer. Because people are living longer and more stressful lives, they are exposing their teeth to many more years of crack-inducing habits, such as clenching, grinding, and chewing on hard objects. These habits make our teeth more susceptible to cracks.
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How Do You Know If Your Tooth Is Cracked?

Cracked teeth show a variety of symptoms, including inconsistent pain when chewing, or pain when your tooth is exposed to temperature extremes. In many cases, the pain may come and go, and it may be difficult to locate which tooth is causing the discomfort.

Why Does A Cracked Tooth Hurt?

When a tooth is cracked, there is a small separation of two pieces of the tooth. When you chew on the tooth, it can cause movement of the pieces, and the nerve inside the tooth can become irritated.  Sometimes as the segments of the tooth open and close, the crack can close quickly, which may cause a momentary, sharp pain.  It is possible that the pulp will become damaged to the point that it can no longer heal itself. The tooth will not only hurt when chewing but may also become sensitive to temperature extremes. In time, a cracked tooth may begin to hurt all by itself. Extensive cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum tissue surrounding the tooth.

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How Is A Cracked Tooth Treated?

There are many different types of cracked teeth. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location, and extent of the crack.  If a crack is very shallow or limited to the top (crown) part of the tooth, the symptoms may resolve with placement of a crown that stabilizes the tooth.  If the crack is more extensive, a cracked tooth may be able to be treated by root canal treatment and and crown.  If the crack extends down into the root of the tooth, and the tooth continues to hurt after root canal treatment, the tooth may not be able to be saved.   In some cases it is difficult determine the extent of a crack and root canal treatment may be performed to fully examine the extent of a crack.

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What Can I Do To Prevent My Teeth From Cracking?

  • Don’t chew on hard objects such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or pens.
  • Don’t clench or grind your teeth.
  • If you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep, talk to your general dentist about getting a retainer or  mouthguard to protect your teeth.
  • Wear a mouthguard or protective mask when playing contact sports.