A cracked tooth is not only a cosmetic problem. Left unchecked, a crack could spread causing you to lose it. Endodontic treatment can help save a cracked tooth.
We believe that the best way to solve a problem is to prevent it. At Lowry Endodontics, we want to provide you with a guide on how to prevent teeth from cracking. While we love to help our patients, we also believe in conservative treatment. Part of this type of care is educating our patients on protecting their teeth for life.
Types of Cracks in Teeth
Teeth can crack in different ways. Dental professionals define cracks based on their length, direction, and location. For instance, surface-level cracks that only cause cosmetic damage are craze lines that usually don’t need endodontic treatment. Other types of cracks in teeth do need attention as soon as possible and include the following types:
- Vertical root cracks: These start at the root and move upward. Often, they require endodontic surgery to treat.
- Chipped tooth: This type of damage only occurs to the top layer of the tooth and only needs minor repairs for cosmetic corrections such as bonding, a crown, or a veneer
- Cusp fracture: A fracture in the tooth’s biting surface that does not expose the root and usually only needs restoration materials placed over the crack by a dentist.
- Cracked tooth: When a crack remains above the gum line, an endodontist can treat it with root canal therapy. Longer cracks may cause loss of part or all of the tooth.
- Split tooth: When the tooth splits entirely apart, the pieces separate. Sometimes, an endodontist can save part of the tooth, but the entire tooth may need extraction in other cases.
Some tooth cracks remain small, while others will grow over time. Therefore, any type of crack in a tooth needs evaluation and treatment as soon as possible to increase the chances of preserving the tooth.
Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
Some types of cracks are so small or hidden that the patient won’t notice them. In fact, some cracks go unnoticed until the patient has x-rays during their annual dental exams. First, this attribute of dental cracks illustrates the importance of regular dental care. Secondly, it means that patients need to watch out for symptoms of a cracked tooth aside from visible lines or breaks on a tooth. Cracks can cause the following symptoms in a tooth:
- Pain when biting in a certain way
- Intermittent pain when eating
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods or drinks
- Pain that disappears and reappears without an apparent cause
If you have any of the above symptoms, you may have a cracked tooth or another dental issue that needs care. Talk to an endodontist to get relief from the discomfort and pain. Leaving a cracked tooth can cause it to worsen over time, leading to eventual extraction.
How to Prevent Teeth from Cracking
Ideally, you should understand how to prevent teeth from cracking in the first place. By preventing cracks, your teeth avoid severe damage.
First, keep your teeth protected from harm during sports. Wear a mouthguard during both high and low-impact sports to prevent cracked or lost teeth. Many sports leagues require mouthguards, but even when not needed, you should wear one for protection anytime you could have an impact near your mouth.
Secondly, if you grind your teeth at night, wear a nightguard to protect your teeth from the constant stress of pressing your jaw closed throughout the night. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can lead to small cracks in the teeth. If you wake up with jaw or neck pain or headaches, talk to your dentist about a nightguard.
Third, never use your teeth for anything other than chewing food. Don’t nibble on pens or pencils, open bags or bottles, crack nuts, or hold things in your teeth. Your teeth are designed to rip and mash food. Other uses increase your chances of cracking them.
Fourth, be careful about the types of food that you eat. Some hard candies, popcorn kernels, nuts, or bones can crack teeth if you bite down on them.
However, even with good preventative methods, you could still crack a tooth. Therefore, you need to know why treatment is so necessary.
The Importance of Treatment for Cracked Teeth
Getting early treatment for a cracked tooth prevents you from having an infection develop in the root canals. A crack opens the delicate internal anatomy of your tooth to microbial invasion. When germs get into the tooth, they can multiply. The infection can lead to an inflamed pulp, pain, and discomfort. The pulp eventually dies and gets infected. This infection spreads into the jaw and results in an abscess.
Small cracks may also need treatment because they can expand over time, even with normal use. Split teeth often start as minor, treatable cracks that don’t go below the gumline. As time progresses and the weakened tooth undergoes stress from daily use, the crack lengthens to split the tooth into two parts eventually. Getting treatment before this happens increases the chances that you won’t need an extraction.
How Does an Endodontist Repair a Cracked Tooth?
When you go to an endodontist for a cracked tooth, you will first have an evaluation. The endodontist will examine the tooth using a microscope and enhanced imaging to see how deep the crack goes. The earlier a crack is caught, the more conservative the treatment options are.
If the root canal had exposure to bacteria, you may need root canal therapy to clean out the affected pulp and reinforce the tooth to minimize further damage.
Call Lowry Endodontics in Denver, Colorado, for Help with a Cracked Tooth
If you have symptoms of a cracked tooth, contact us at Lowry Endodontics in Denver, Colorado. Dr. Rahim Karmali can identify the best type of treatment for your cracked tooth through high-tech imaging and expertise in endodontic care. At Lowry Endodontics, our patients experience compassion, quality, and technology to receive the best care possible.