Cracked Teeth: An In-depth Guide into Its Causes, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Cracked Teeth: An In-depth Guide into Its Causes, Types, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention

Feb 10, 2021

Cracked teeth are a common dental issue. Learn more about its causes, types, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.

The outside of our teeth ismade of the strongest element in our bodies–enamel. Because of this, you would think that our teeth would be invincible to any form of damage, but this is not the case.

Yes, our teeth can last us an entire lifetime if taken care of properly. They are strong enough to withstand the force generated whenever we bite down or chew on food. However, they can still succumb to structural damage if exposed to too much pressure or weakened by dental issues such as enamel erosion or tooth decay.

When our teeth become structurally compromised, they become more vulnerable to fracturing, cracking, breaking, or chipping. These issues need to be addressed promptly because if left unchecked, they can lead to other dental complications such as abscessed teeth, infections, or even tooth loss.

Let’s take a glance at some of the causes of a cracked tooth.

Causes of a Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth can occur due to a myriad of reasons. These may include:

  • Bruxism or a habit of grinding teeth
  • Biting or chewing hard substances or foods such as nuts, hard candy, or ice 
  • Traumatic injuries that may occur during a contact sport or bad fall
  • Getting a large filling that impacts the structural integrity of your tooth
  • Experiencing abrupt temperature variations in your mouth. This may occur when you suddenly switch from eating something hot to something cold
  • Aging factors

Any of the above factors can lead to the formation of different types of cracks on teeth. It’s essential to keep in mind that cracked teeth can result in tooth loss if tooth restoration procedures are done.

Types of Cracked Teeth

Cracks formed on teeth can be classified into five types:

  • Fractured cusps – these cracks tend to emerge around fillings. They may not affect the pulp and therefore may not cause much excruciating pain or discomfort
  • Craze lines – tiny cracks on teeth that do not cause any pain or discomfort whatsoever
  • Cracks that have reached the gum linealso referred to as cracked tooth fractures
  • Split root– a type of extensive crack that can separate the affected tooth into two segments. The damage extends from the enamel to below the gum line
  • Vertical root fracture– crack starts below the gum line and extends upwards

Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth

They may include:

  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Experiencing pain whenever you bite or chew
  • Swollen gums surrounding the cracked tooth
  • A toothache that comes and goes

Diagnosing a Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth may not always elicit any pain or discomfort. There are specific ways to ascertain and diagnose cracked teeth apart from looking at the symptoms. These may include:

  • A visual examination of your teeth
  • A comprehensive look at your day-to-day practices that may affect your oral health, such as biting into ice or eating hard foods
  • Looking for inflamed regions of your gums
  • Using a dental explorer to feel for cracks or any rough edges alongside the teeth
  • Using a special light which can highlight the cracks

Treatment Procedures for Cracked Teeth

The treatment for a cracked tooth will vary depending on the extent of the crack, its locations, and the symptoms experienced. Some of the procedures used to remedy cracks on teeth may include:

  • Dental crowns– Our dentist may use a customized dental crown to cover and reinforce your cracked tooth.
  • Root canal therapy– This treatment method is applicable, particularly if the crack reaches your pulp region. It decreases the chanceof future reinfections.
  • Dental bonding– This treatment procedure is ideal for tiny surface cracks. In this case, a plastic resin is used to seal up the crack and restore the affected tooth.
  • Extraction– This is the last resort utilized when the affected tooth is too damaged to be salvaged.

Complications That May Arise Due to a Cracked Tooth

Failure to treat cracked teeth can result in the development of complications of a cracked tooth. Mainly the complication experienced will be a widespread infection of the gums and surrounding jawbone. These complications harm your oral and overall health. They may include:

  • Fever
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Persistent toothache
  • Swollen gums
  • Swollen lymph glands

Here is some handy information you need to know to avoid getting cracked teeth:

  • Avoid chewing on ice
  • If you take part in a contact sport, always wear a customized mouthguard 
  • Ask your dentist for a customized nightguard if you suffer from bruxism
  • Keep regular dental appointments to ensure any cracks or issues are caught early on

Do not postpone getting treatment if you notice a cracked tooth. The cost of treatment will depend on the crack’s extent and the type of treatment needed to restore it.

Contact us today at Dr. Jeff Levman to address your cracked tooth today.