Your teeth are not impervious to damage. In fact, they can crack even from seemingly innocuous causes. To avoid harming your teeth, you should know what causes teeth to crack and what to do when it happens.
If you experience a cracked tooth, our team at Apex Endodontics can help you get the treatment you need.
What Are Types of Cracked Teeth?
Not all tooth cracks are the same. In fact, the type of tooth crack plays a major role in its diagnosis and treatment. However, it’s almost impossible for most people to tell if they have a completely split tooth or have a simple crack.
So, for any crack in a tooth, regardless of what caused it, you should see a dentist or endodontist as soon as possible to get it evaluated and treated. Without treatment, the crack could expand, causing severe damage that could result in a lost tooth.
1. Simple Cracked Tooth
First, a simple cracked tooth is one in which a crack starts at the biting surface but does not go past the gumline. This type of damage can usually be corrected through restorative care (crown or filling) and/or endodontic care, such as a root canal. But, you can also make a crack worse by continuing to use the tooth, which could cause the crack to extend, splitting the tooth and raising the chances that you will lose part or all of it.
2. Vertical Fracture Through the Root
Vertical fractures start at the tooth root and go toward the biting surface. You may not even see this type of crack, but you likely can feel it when biting down on the tooth causes pain. Any type of dental pain needs evaluation by a professional to determine if you have a hidden crack, such as a vertical fracture. Sadly, in some cases, extraction may be the only solution. But, an endodontist might save a portion of the tooth depending on the damage.
3. Split Tooth from Top to Bottom
A split tooth usually starts as a minor crack that gets worse. When the crack goes below the gumline, the chances of needing extraction increase.
4. Cusp Fracture
A cusp fracture typically creates minor surface damage and doesn’t expose the root. If it does not cause severe, deep damage, you may only need a crown to repair this type of structural issue.
5. Craze Lines
Craze lines often appear as people get older. Luckily, these lines are not true cracks and do not pose any danger to the teeth. However, if you feel concerned about the cosmetic effects of having craze lines, speak with your dentist.
What Causes Teeth to Crack?
What causes teeth to crack? There are several reasons. In fact, many of these causes are preventable. Therefore, you can avoid many instances of cracked teeth by practicing some safety methods and staying away from situations that cause tooth damage.
1. Excessive Force
Your teeth are not tools. Never use them to rip open packages, pop off bottle caps, or tear tape. Excessive force applied to your teeth can easily cause them to crack.
Even if you only use your teeth for eating foods, you still need to be careful about the types of foods that you eat. Biting down on ice cubes is a notorious cause of tooth cracks. Even foods such as nuts and hard candies can cause fractures in teeth. Avoid eating ice cubes and biting on hard foods. Let hard candies dissolve in your mouth, and chew nuts one at a time instead of eating them by the handful. Your mouth will thank you for your new, safer habits.
2. Traumatic Injuries
Professional athletes wear mouthguards to protect their teeth. Make sure that you always do the same for your sports activities. Getting hit during contact sports or falling to the ground could cause trauma to your mouth and teeth, resulting in cracked or lost teeth. A mouthguard will prevent these situations from happening.
3. Tooth Grinding
Excessive force from using your teeth as a tool or biting on hard foods can cause immediate cracking. However, a force can also affect your teeth when applied over a long time. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is a condition in which you grind your teeth in your sleep; some tooth grinding or clenching can also occur during waking hours. If you wake up with headaches or a sore jaw every morning, ask your dentist about a night guard to protect your teeth from the grinding forces that could cause cracks over time.
Cracked Teeth Treatment
Treatment for cracked teeth depends on how far the crack progresses into the tooth. For simple cracks that don’t go below the gum line, you may need root canal therapy to clean your tooth’s root and prevent infection. For more severe cracks, such as split teeth or vertical fractures from the root, you might need an extraction. Talk to an endodontist about all your options. Endodontists specialize in saving teeth, so the advice you get from these dental professionals will help you keep as many of your natural teeth as possible.
Come to Us at Apex Endodontics for Care of Cracked Teeth
At Apex Endodontics, we know what causes teeth to crack and what the best treatments are. If you have a cracked tooth, don’t try to diagnose the type yourself. Contact us at Apex Endodontics to have an appropriate evaluation, complete with imaging, of your tooth. An endodontist may be able to save your tooth if you get prompt care.