My dentist said my tooth is cracked! What happens now?
Although enamel is the hardest substance in our body (much harder than bone) and can withstand a great deal of wear and tear, certain stresses can still put our teeth at risk of fracturing.
Cracks or fractures can be the result of a variety of habits. Grinding, clenching, and ice chewing over extended periods of time can cause extensive damage to the teeth; with cracks being a common result. Cracks can also be the result of an isolated incident such as biting into an olive pit or bone, or an accident resulting in trauma to the teeth. Although any tooth can be affected by a crack, the molars are often prone to fracture. There are many types of cracked teeth and your treatment options will depend on the location, type and severity of the fracture.
Understand that a cracked tooth is different to a chipped tooth. Unlike bone, enamel cannot repair a crack by filling it in with more enamel.
So what is ‘Cracked Tooth Syndrome’?
Cracked tooth syndrome starts when a tooth has a crack that’s too small to show up on x-rays, is under the gum or challenging to identify. Although early detection and treatment is essential to minimise the risks associated with a compromised tooth, sometimes, a cracked tooth is hard to detect. This is why regular dental check-ups are so important.
Signs and Symptoms
Reported symptoms may include the following:
Sharp pain or discomfort when biting on a certain tooth.
Pain when eating or drinking sugary substances.
Pain when grinding the teeth.
Sharp, fleeting pain which occurs when the biting force is released from the tooth.
Taking some preventative steps now can reduce the likelihood of tooth fractures in the future.
An extraordinary amount of force is exerted on your teeth when you clench and grind at night. Your dentist can make you a custom-fitted splint to protect your teeth from grinding.
If you chew on hard objects like pencils and ice; or use your teeth to open things – just stop!
Take more care when eating food with bones, seeds or pits.
Follow the recommendation of your dentist when they advise you to have a crown placed on teeth that are most vulnerable to fracturing. Crowns are expensive – but to replace a tooth is also. A lot of patients asked Dr Timothy – when do I need to put a crown on this tooth. His response is invariably ‘the day before it breaks’.
Wear a protective mouth guard during high risk activities such as sports.
Your teeth can serve you well for a lifetime if they are not treated as an afterthought. Following these prevention tips, having regular dental check-ups and attending to any issues when they are small may give you more choice of treatment options and give the tooth a better prognosis.
If you experiencing any of the signs and symptoms, please book an appointment as soon as you can.