How will my cracked tooth be treated?
There are several different types of cracked teeth and correspond treatment plans:
- Craze Lines: Tiny cracks that affect only the outer layer (enamel). These are very common in adult teeth and are very shallow, don’t cause pain, and are of no concern beyond appearances.
- Fractured Cusp: A piece of a tooth’s chewing surface breaks off. It usually doesn’t damage the pulp and there isn’t much pain associated with it. A new filling or crown over the damaged tooth can protect it.
- Cracked Tooth: A crack that extends from the chewing surface of the tooth down toward the root. The crack may spread so early diagnosis is critical to save the tooth. If the crack reaches the pulp, a root canal procedure can treat the tooth. A crown protects the crack from spreading. If the crack, reaches below the gumline, it can’t be treated and must be extracted.
- Split Tooth: Usually the long-term advancement of a cracked tooth. A split tooth has segmented cracks that can be separated. It can’t be saved and kept intact. Depending on the location and extent of the split, sometimes endodontic treatment can save a portion of the tooth.
- Vertical Root Fracture: Cracks that start in the root of the tooth and reach up toward the chewing surface. Because they don’t show symptoms, they can go undetected for a long time. Vertical root fractures are normally discovered when surrounding bone and gum gets infected. Extraction of the tooth may be necessary, but sometimes endodontic surgery can save the tooth by removing the fractured part.
Will my tooth heal fully?
Unfortunately, the fracture in a cracked tooth won’t fully heal. Despite treatment efforts, cracks may continue to progress and cause you to lose your tooth. Dr. Dholakiya uses crowns and fillings on cracked teeth to properly protect them, but sometimes that’s not enough.
Still, getting treatment is important because it alleviates pain and minimizes the chances that the crack will separate and worsen. After treatment, most cracked teeth are able to function normally and you can chew comfortably for a long period of time following.
How can I prevent my teeth from cracking?
Even though cracked teeth aren’t always entirely preventable, here are some tips from Dr. Dholakiya on how to avoid cracks:
- Try not to chew on hard foods or objects, like ice, unpopped popcorn kernels or pens
- Try not to clench or grind your teeth
- If you involuntarily clench or grind your teeth, for instance while you sleep, talk to your dentist about getting a retainer or other mouthguard to protect your teeth
- Always wear a mouthguard when playing sports