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.