Cracked Tooth? What You Need To Know

Posted on: 6 August 2015


Cracks in your teeth can cause pain, sensitivity to heat, cold and sweetness, and uncomfortable swelling of the gums.  Here are the answers to some common questions you may have about cracked teeth.

What causes cracked teeth?

Cracks in your teeth can be caused by a number of different factors.  If the fracture is in the tooth root, it could have been caused by long-standing gum disease that has weakened the jaw bone around the tooth root.  Sometimes, dental work involving very large fillings can weaken the surrounding tooth enamel so that it eventually cracks.

If you have the habit of grinding your teeth while you sleep, cracks in your teeth can occur due to the tremendous pressure placed on them.  Cracking can also occur when you bite on a hard surface such as a boiled sweet.  Facial injuries and impacts can also result in cracked teeth.

What does a cracked tooth look like?

A simple cracked tooth is seen as a single crack running from the top edge of the tooth down to the root.  Although the tooth doesn't split in half, the damage can extend into the inner tissues of the tooth.

A common form of cracking is 'craze lines'.  These are present in the outer enamel of the tooth and show up as minute cracks, like crazy paving.  They won't cause you any pain, although you should still get them checked out by your dentist.

A cracked 'cusp' usually occurs as a result of biting onto something hard.  The cusp is the pointed part of your tooth.  If it's broken, you could experience pain when biting.  

What dental treatment will you need?

It's important to have your cracked tooth looked at by your dentist as soon as possible.  Cracked teeth that are left untreated may split into two pieces, causing nerve death and allowing abscesses to form.  The treatment the dentist recommends will depend on the severity of the damage to your tooth, but he will avoid having to remove it wherever possible.

If the damage is just to the enamel of the tooth and is purely cosmetic, the dentist can quickly fill the crack using a tooth-coloured plastic resin.  The treatment is painless and you won't need anaesthetic. 

Another popular cosmetic option is veneers.  Veneers are thin layers of either synthetic or porcelain material.  They are placed over the front surface of the tooth to cover up a crack or crazing.  Veneers are permanent, but can become damaged.

If the damage to your tooth is quite severe, your dentist may fit a crown.  A crown is a false tooth, designed to fit over what remains of your natural tooth to strengthen it.  Crowns are designed to be permanent.  The dentist may decide to carry out root canal treatment prior to fitting the crown if the nerve is dead or damaged.  This is to prevent the risk of infection.  The dentist will clean out the root of the damaged tooth and fill it so that further infection risk is eradicated.  The crown is then fitted over the tooth.  This process can be uncomfortable and you will require anaesthetic.  You'll also need to make at least two visits to the dentist for the whole of the procedure to be completed.

In conclusion

If you have a cracked tooth, you should visit your cosmetic dentist, someone like Collins Dental Image, immediately.  He will be able to advise you on the best course of treatment for the damage.