Do I Have a Cracked Tooth?


Chipped Tooth

You think you may have a cracked tooth, right? If so, you probably are feeling a little uneasy right now. You’re afraid that your tooth may suddenly split apart, and you would be subjected to intense pain. How can you know for sure, though, that your problems are the result of a cracked tooth and not something else?

Definition of a cracked tooth

What is a cracked tooth, anyway? It is simply a fracture or split within any part of the tooth. The crack may be on the outside of the tooth where it can be seen under the right conditions, or it could be hidden away from view on the inside of the tooth. The crack can penetrate the entire tooth or only a portion of it, and the crack can run in any direction. Symptoms associated with a cracked tooth. If you think you may have a cracked tooth, see if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Pain, especially when chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sensitivity to sweetness
  • Swollen gums
  • General discomfort in one particular area of your mouth

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, does that mean it is a certainty that your tooth is cracked? As you probably have guessed by now, the answer is not that simple. While the symptoms listed above are often associated with a cracked tooth, they could be indicative of other problems as well. In most cases, unless you can actually see the crack in your tooth, it will be difficult for you to make a determination without professional help.

Causes of a cracked tooth

What causes a tooth to crack? Here are some of the more common reasons:

  • A physical injury to an individual tooth or to the mouth
  • A large filling in a tooth which causes the tooth to weaken
  • Biting down on a hard substance such as hard candy
  • Grinding the teeth, which often occurs during sleep

Avoiding a cracked tooth

How can you avoid cracking a tooth? One way is to wear a mouth guard when you play sports or participate in other activities that might subject you to bodily harm. Another is to use tools for prying things open instead of doing so with your teeth. Get regular dental checkups and never ignore potential problems. Also, keep your teeth healthy by practicing good oral hygiene which includes regular brushing and flossing. Keep in mind that a healthy tooth is less likely to crack than an unhealthy one.

Risks associated with a cracked tooth

Remember that your overall wellbeing is affected by your dental health. If you suspect that your tooth is cracked, and you leave it untreated, you are opening yourself up to the possibility of future problems, including the following:

  • Infections, such as an abscess, which may require antibiotics
  • Further tooth decay
  • Tooth splitting apart, requiring an extraction
  • Pain
  • Swelling

Seeking the aid of a professional

If you think you may have a cracked tooth, you will probably need to see a dentist who can provide the comprehensive care you need. That is because a cracked tooth can sometimes be difficult to diagnose. The dentist will likely ask you a series of questions concerning your dental history and the symptoms you are experiencing in an effort to locate the exact problem. He or she may examine your teeth using a magnifying glass and possibly take X-rays. Probes and other dental tools may be used to narrow down the search. In more difficult cases, the dentist may apply a dye which can make cracks more visible.

Treatment options

If it is determined that you do have a cracked tooth, what can you expect in the way of treatment options? This will depend, of course, on the severity of the damage and whether your tooth is actually cracked or not. If your tooth is chipped, the dentist may be able to repair it by either gluing the chipped piece back on or by fabricating a replacement part. A small crack can often be repaired by filling it with a dental bonding material. If the surface of the tooth is beyond repair, the typical fix would be to crown the tooth. Crowns, also known as caps, are made from compatible materials and bonded to the base of the tooth using dental cement. If the damage to the tooth has affected the root system, it may be necessary to perform a root canal, and in more severe cases, the tooth may have to be extracted.


Las Vegas Dentist

If you suffer from crooked teeth, either one of two things may be true. Either you (1) would like to get them fixed but don't know how or (2) know that they are crooked but just don't think it matters. However, there may be another angle to consider: the effect of crooked teeth on your physical health. Teeth that overlap or sit too far apart can be hard to clean and are likely wear at an uneven rate. Decay, gum disease, headaches, jaw pain and difficulty in chewing are just a few of the problems that can result, to say nothing of the embarrassment crooked teeth can cause.

The good news is that all is not lost. There are things you can do to correct the problem. If your tooth misalignment is not too severe, you may achieve the desired result through:

  • Cosmetic contouring. This fast and reasonably priced solution works well for people whose teeth are worn, chipped or slightly crooked. The success of this treatment rests heavily on the thickness of the existing tooth enamel and the characteristics of the bite. It may not be the answer for everyone, but if you should prove to be a viable candidate, cosmetic contouring can reward you with an improved appearance and teeth that are far easier to clean.
  • Tooth bonding. The application of plastic resin can improve the appearance and function of crooked teeth in as little as one dental visit. This material, once in place, is easily sculpted and trimmed into an attractive shape. Bonding is often performed in conjunction with cosmetic contouring to fill in empty gaps and correct overlaps. This cost-effective technique also works well to improve the appearance of teeth that happen to be stained or chipped.
  • Porcelain veneers. These undetectable, stain-resistant ceramic shells bond invisibly to the existing teeth, making them look straighter.
  • Crowns. Second in cost only to orthodontia, crowns can dramatically correct the appearance of crooked or crowded teeth. However, the success of this treatment depends on the ability to align the crowned teeth properly with their next-door neighbors.

Although any one of these cosmetic techniques can serve as a lower-cost alternative to traditional braces for straightening teeth, they unfortunately won't do the trick for everyone. There are times that only braces will help you achieve the desired result. There are several types of braces available today. Depending on your situation, your dentist may recommend:

  • Metal braces. This traditional type of dental brace consists of brackets that attach to the teeth and metal wires that thread through these brackets to apply the pressure that moves the teeth into position. This is the least expensive type of brace and may work the fastest, but they are impossible to hide, and not everyone finds them comfortable.
  • Ceramic braces. Less widely used and somewhat more expensive than the metal variety, ceramic braces are harder to notice when in place. Although they achieve results at about the same rate as metal braces, they do tend to stain and can also be uncomfortable to wear.
  • Lingual braces. These are very similar to traditional metal braces except that instead of attaching to the front of the teeth, the metal brackets attach to the back. In this position, they are hard to notice unless the wearer opens his mouth. They are also more comfortable to wear. However, they are somewhat more difficult to keep clean and may cause problems with speech. In addition, lingual braces are more expensive and slower to work.
  • Self-ligating braces. Although similar in style to traditional metal braces, the self-ligating variety secure the wire with doors or clips rather than the rubber bands employed by the older type. Self-ligating braces are also less painful to wear, easier to clean and available in either metal or ceramic. However, they may not be right for every patient.
  • Invisible braces. More expensive than other types of dental braces, the invisible variety is virtually undetectable when in place. They remove completely to allow for cleaning and afford more comfort than do traditional metal braces. While they are not likely to work well in severe cases, their inconspicuous nature has attracted many users.

When it comes to straightening your teeth, there are many methods out there. Regardless of the one on which you and your dental professional finally decide, having straighter teeth will:

  • Improve your appearance.
  • Increase your self-confidence.
  • Make your teeth easier to clean and less likely to decay.

Straighter teeth can also help you live longer. That's because they are easier to floss, and studies have shown that people who floss daily can add up to seven years to their lifespans.

If you live in Las Vegas and are interested in straightening your teeth, Dr. James White can help. Contact our office today. We will evaluate your situation and help you choose the tooth-straightening method that best suits your circumstances.


Girl brushing teeth

Everyone grows older. Your teeth do too, but that doesn't mean they can't last as long as you do. The right dental attitude makes a difference. Some would call it dental aptitude, and that would be more to the point.

Do intelligent people have a better chance of keeping their teeth for life? You don't have to be a bona fide genius, but the answer is yes for anyone who knows that holding on to your teeth for life means:

  • Intelligent brushing. This is one of the most important parts of your daily dental routine, and it's one that needs to take place twice a day at the very least. For the best results, however, try to brush after every meal if possible, using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush that fits comfortably inside your mouth. To do this the smart way, hold your brush at a 45 degree angle and use short strokes. Pay special attention to the gumline, and keep the action going for two minutes at least.
  • Intelligent flossing. The American Dental Association considers daily flossing to be an essential tool for anyone interested in hanging on to natural teeth life. However, if you have a problem with flossing, interdental brushes will also do a credible job of removing plaque from in between the teeth.
  • Intelligent life choices. The decisions you make on a daily basis are bound to affect your well-being, but there's even more to it than that. The truth is that anything that harms your body is going to harm your teeth as well. If you smoke, chew tobacco, drink to excess or indulge in drugs, your chances of keeping your teeth for life are certainly slim to none.

On the other hand, there are some positive things you can do. These include:

  • Eating apples. The rough and crunchy texture of this particular fruit has a talent for scrubbing away plaque and lessening stains. There is just one caveat: Apples are sweet and mildly acidic, so a good after-brushing is always recommended.
  • Drinking milk. Everyone knows that calcium is vital for healthy bones. Your teeth need it just as much, and milk is one of the easiest ways of getting it. Nevertheless, if you don't like milk or cannot physically tolerate it, cheese, tofu, yogurt and even broccoli can serve as excellent alternative sources.
  • Throwing out an old, worn toothbrush. Nothing lasts forever, and every time you brush your teeth, the bristles on your toothbrush wear down a little more. The more they degrade, the less effective they become at removing plaque from your teeth and gums. Most dental professionals recommend replacing your toothbrush at least four times a year, although if you should catch a cold, have the flu or suffer from a mouth infection, the purchase of a new one when you start feeling well will guard against re-infection.
  • Using a fluoride toothpaste on a regular basis. Fluoride coats your teeth with a protective layer that not only puts the brakes on plaque buildup but also shields against sugar's damaging effects.
  • Just saying no to tobacco products. All forms of tobacco can damage your mouth, and this is true regardless of whether you smoke it or chew it. Tobacco does more than just stain your teeth. It also weakens their structure while leaving the gums vulnerable to disease and tissue damage. Studies have also implicated tobacco in as many as eight out of every 10 cases of oral cancer.

Most importantly of all, intelligent stewardship of your teeth will always call for regular visits to a dental professional. Regardless of how well you care for your teeth each day, only professional cleanings can remove the stains and plaque buildup that would otherwise send your teeth down the slippery slope toward an early grave. Regular dental visits with Dr. James White will also catch problems in the initial stages before things get so out of hand that your teeth no longer stand a chance.

Do you think you rate an A for dental aptitude? Take a cue from our list of guidelines above. Just these few intelligent moves could provide the help you need to hold on to your natural teeth for life.