A cracked tooth may be subtle and barely even visible, but any discrepancy in tooth enamel creates an easy entry for bacteria. A compromised tooth should be considered a dental emergency and repaired immediately to prevent bigger dental problems from developing. At Bethesda Family Dental in Bethesda, MD, we check for cracked teeth as part of every dental exam and assist patients who need help right away for a cracked tooth.
Causes of a Cracked Tooth
Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body but, when it’s subjected to the wrong kind of pressure, it can crack. Most people know precisely when a dental problem has occurred, while others don’t know a tooth is cracked until their dentist identifies the issue. Here are some of the most common causes of a cracked tooth:
- Teeth grinding
- Biting down wrong
- Eating a hard food
- Getting hit in the mouth
- Deteriorating dental restoration
- Using teeth as a tool
Why a Cracked Tooth Is a Dental Emergency
Cracked teeth don’t always hurt, so it’s easy to assume that this kind of oral health issue is not an emergency. Unfortunately, this is a dangerous way of thinking. Anything that changes the composition, health, and strength of your tooth compromises your entire dental health.
Here are a few important details about the dental damage behind a cracked tooth:
- Hairline cracks: The outer tooth enamel may be suffering from a hairline crack, but damage doesn’t always start on the surface. It’s not always possible to see a crack in a tooth because some shake-ups occur within the layers of a tooth.
- Severe pain: Toothaches can indicate any number of oral health problems, but they often occur because of a crack in a tooth where foreign substances have been allowed to enter the pulp. It’s nearly impossible to overlook sharp pain or a throbbing tooth – it needs immediate treatment.
- Dental emergency: No one wants a dental emergency. They are inconvenient, often painful, and sometimes costly. What’s important to keep in mind, though, is that addressing a small problem sooner rather than later saves you from compounded pain and multiple emergency treatments in the future. Even if you just notice a small crack, have it checked.
Dental Restorations for a Cracked Tooth
A cracked tooth can be treated in several ways. The selected procedure typically depends on the condition of the tooth, its location, and the pain that a patient is experiencing. Your dentist will examine your teeth and mouth and take digital x-rays to diagnose the situation and get restorations started as quickly as possible. The problem might go deeper than you realize and it’s essential to undergo a thorough vetting before any work is done.
When it is time to get out the tools and fix the cracked tooth, your dentist may recommend one or more of the following treatments:
- Root canal therapy: Extreme tooth pain is a sign that infection has developed within the tooth. The infected pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned and filled. The problem tooth is capped with a crown to protect and restore it to full shape and size.
- Dental crown: If your tooth is cracked but nothing has infiltrated the layers of the tooth, a dental crown is customized to cover the entire tooth so it cannot be compromised.
- Tooth extraction: Some teeth are terribly damaged, whether inside or outside, and when a tooth cannot be fixed with a dental restoration, it may be necessary to extract the tooth. This solution is always a last resort.