Our teeth can last our whole lifetime with proper care. But because of the daily grind they go through, their strength wears off and they develop tiny cracks which grow larger.
When tiny cracks develop, you may not notice it because initially the tooth may not be seriously affected. But when left neglected, the tiny crack becomes a big crack which needs serious intervention.
The outermost part of the teeth is the hard cover called enamel. It protects the inner parts – the dentine and the pulp, which leads into the sensitive nerves and dental tissues. Cracks lead to other more painful dental issues including inflammation and infection in the tooth.
Causes for cracks in the teeth
Cracks develop in teeth because of many reasons. Injury or accidents due to sports is among the most common.
Another reason is the habit of consuming lots of hard foods like hard candies and ice. These hard foods can make the hard enamel crack under pressure causing a minor crack on the surface of the tooth. If the pressure continues, this minor crack in the enamel progresses and become deeper.
Teeth grinding is also one of the reasons why cracks develop in the teeth. Some people have a habit of grinding teeth while they are sleeping. The grinding of teeth in sleep puts a lot pf pressure on the teeth and they may develop cracks.
Different types of cracks in teeth
Cracks can appear in the front teeth or at the back of the mouth. Some cracks may have just begun and are minor cracks, but some may have been progressing for a while and are quite big. Minor cracks are not very painful but may create sensitivity in the teeth whereas severe painful cracks give you a lot of pain. The minor cracks can be filled with dental bonding which will hide your crack and is a good cosmetic option as well.
More severe cracks are painful. When you chew it will put a pressure on the cracked tooth and may cause it to break and small pieces can fall out. This breakage of tooth opens up nerve endings and dental tissues and cause severe pain. The cracked tooth needs treatment, one of which is to cover it with crown, which will make the tooth look normal and prevent it from breaking away completely. This can save the beauty and the functionality of the tooth.
What to do if you notice a crack in your teeth
Many a time, the crack is very tiny and you may not be able to see the crack, but you will notice the symptoms of it. You may feel a dull pain while you chew your food, or a sudden shoot of pain while you are exposed to extreme cold. These sensations may be generalized. When you see your dentist, he may find it difficult to locate the crack. If these symptoms persist, your dentist may suggest that you fix an appointment.
Treatment for the chipped and cracked teeth
The treatment will depend on the extent and type of crack in the teeth. When the cracks appear as very fine lines on the enamel of the tooth, they are not very worrisome because they are superficial and can be treated with special toothpastes which will fill the fine cracks with a kind of chemical in the toothpaste itself. These are called crazy lines.
When you have fractured the cusp of the tooth, that is a part of the tooth near the chewing surface, it is nearly painless because it is not touching the pulp. The dentist can put another filling or a crown to cover it so that it is protected from further breakage.
When you have a cracked tooth, it means the tooth has developed a cracking line in the middle of the tooth from the chewing surface to the root of the tooth. This is only a crack. Tooth has not broken into pieces yet, but the crack is deep. In this case the dentist will have to perform a root canal treatment and then seal the area with a crown so that the crack is contained.
There are cases when the crack extends to the gums and jawline. This kind of crack is usually untreatable where the extraction of the tooth is the only way left to stop the pain.
When the tooth develops a crack and not treated in time, it may progress to the root, and is called split tooth. The kind of split will determine whether the tooth can be saved because if the tooth has split right down, then it will be extracted. But in case of split half way down then the dentist can save part of the tooth.
In some cases, the fracture starts at the root of the tooth and travels upward to the chewing surface. The surrounding teeth also get affected in this kind of fractures. These are called vertical root fracture. These fractures do not show any symptoms till very late when surrounding gums are infected too. The tooth may have to be extracted to clean the infection, but sometimes surgery of the tooth can be performed to save a portion of the tooth.
To save the tooth from extraction and loss, and from pain, it is very important to notice any signs of tiny fractures in the teeth. Early detection and treatment are very useful in saving you from pain and possible loss of tooth.
Preventing the development of cracks in the teeth is easier than the cure.
Wear mouthguard when participating in the sports. Also use mouthguards if you have bruxism or the habit of grinding teeth while sleeping. Do not eat too many hard candies or chew ice, as these foods put a lot of pressure on the teeth causing them to crack.
Follow a healthy oral health regime. If you find a chipped tooth, immediately consult a dentist.