Detecting & Treating a Cracked Tooth

Detecting & Treating a Cracked Tooth

You may be surprised to learn that detecting a cracked tooth can be hard to do on your own.  While you will know immediately if you chip your tooth or lose a crown, getting a cracked tooth can happen gradually or without you even knowing it.  In fact, some cracks, also called fractures, can’t even be detected by an x-ray.   

Teeth grinding, nail biting, and frequent ice chewing are some of the many habits that can lead to cracked teeth.  If you are experiencing pain or tenderness in a certain part of your mouth every time you bite into something or expose the area to very hot or very cold foods, this could be a sign that you have a cracked tooth. 

If your dentist determines that you do have a cracked tooth, she will want to repair the damage immediately so that no further damage will be done to the tooth and to prevent infection.  There are several treatments your dentist will consider.

  • Bonding.  If you have cracked just a small piece of tooth enamel from the front of your tooth, your dentist may use a procedure called bonding to repair the cracked tooth.  Dental bonding is a quick and easy treatment where your dentist uses a tooth-colored resin to fill in the cracked tooth.  This process will not only protect the tooth from further damage, but it will be shaped by your dentist to look like the rest of your tooth so that no one will notice it when you smile.
  • Crown.  If the cracked tooth is more severe or if the tooth has a lot of decay, your dentist may decide to place a dental crown on the damaged tooth.  First your dentist will file away part of the remaining tooth and then she will cover it with a dental crown, which will restore the tooth to its normal shape, size, and function.
  • Root Canal.  In some cases, the crack has extended to the pulp of the tooth, which is the area in the very center of the tooth that contains the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue.  In this case, the cracked tooth can only be repaired by a root canal.  A root canal is a procedure where the damaged pulp is cleared away and then filled in with a rubber-like material.  Then a permanent crown is placed over the repaired tooth to protect and strengthen it.

Cracked teeth are fairly common and can be hard to identify.  Seeing your dentist for regular teeth cleanings and checkups will help you spot problems before they become serious.  If you think you may have a cracked tooth or would like a basic dental cleaning and checkup, please make an appointment with us at Cornerstone Family Dentistry today!