A cracked tooth can be subtle, something your dentist recognizes during a routine dental checkup. Other cracked teeth are obvious and indicate that you have a serious oral health problem that needs attention right away. Whatever the circumstances, a cracked tooth is a dental emergency that requires immediate attention from your Ladson, SC, dentist at Ingleside Family Dental.
Potential Causes of a Cracked Tooth
Tooth enamel is super strong and durable, but it can break under the wrong kind of pressure. In most cases, you know the exact moment the problem occurs, and in other cases the crack may develop gradually. Either way, you have a problem.
Some of the most common causes of a cracked tooth are:
- Biting down wrong on a hard food
- Chronic teeth grinding
- Deteriorating dental work
- Taking a hit to the mouth
- Using your teeth to open something
All Cracked Teeth Are a Dental Emergency
Hairline cracks can develop on the outer tooth enamel, but they can also start within the depths of a tooth. If your dentist doesn’t find the problem first at a checkup, you certainly will when you experience sharp pain while eating or find yourself with a throbbing toothache. In the latter, the problem is often because bacteria infiltrated the tooth and caused an infection.
When you arrive for a dental emergency appointment, your dentist will examine your mouth, take x-rays, and deliver a diagnosis so the problem can be addressed as quickly as possible. It’s important to determine how deep the problem goes so the right repair can follow, including solutions like:
- Cosmetic tooth bonding: A small surface crack on a tooth can be filled with cosmetic tooth bonding which protects the tooth from deterioration or invasion.
- Dental crown: A large crack needs a large repair, and a dental crown covers the entire tooth. The crown is customized to blend in with the rest of your teeth to look natural.
- Root canal therapy: Tooth pain is a sign that a cracked tooth has become infected. To stop this pain, the infected pulp is removed and the root canals are cleaned and filled to deliver relief. Then the tooth is capped with a dental crown.
- Tooth extraction: In the very worst case, when a tooth is so deeply damaged inside or outside that it cannot be repaired with a dental restoration, tooth extraction may be necessary. This is always your dentist’s last choice.
Ways to Prevent a Cracked Tooth
Sometimes, a cracked tooth just happens. The enamel may be weak or there is an area that is hit the wrong way at the wrong time. In most cases, though, cracked teeth can be avoided if you prioritize your oral health:
- See your dentist every six months: Never miss a dental checkup and cleaning. A cracked tooth can be diagnosed early before it has any chance to cause problems.
- Get a customized mouthguard: If you grind your teeth every night, your chances of cracked teeth go up tremendously. A mouthguard offers protection from cracks and other uncomfortable side effects of teeth grinding like headaches and pain.
- Be careful about what you eat: Some foods seem like they’re designed to break teeth, so make good choices before you bite down on a piece of ice or hard candy.
- Don’t use your teeth as a tool: Scissors and knives are intended for opening packages, not teeth. You can crack a tooth in a heartbeat if you bite down on something that isn’t food.