Cracked Teeth

Are you worried that you have a cracked tooth? The dentists of the Yuba City Dentistry Group can help diagnose and save the tooth in question.

Did you know that tooth enamel — the outer surface of our teeth — is the hardest substance in the human body, even stronger than our bones?  Of course, it’s still possible for teeth to suffer damage, and at times, crack or break. Evidence shows that our teeth develop more cracks today than ever. Researchers feel this is due to a variety of factors, including increased stress levels which cause clenching and grinding of the teeth.

Tooth fractures may be caused by any of the following:

  • Biting on very hard objects,
  • Receiving a blow to the mouth,
  • A large, untreated cavity,
  • Uneven chewing pressure.

No matter the cause, we evaluate the cracked tooth and offer a variety of treatments, depending on the severity of the injury.

For example, cosmetic bonding is used to treat small chips on the edges, or cusps, of teeth. Teeth that are deeply fractured are not repaired so easily. Nonetheless, the sooner they are treated, the higher the chance the tooth can be saved.

Let’s take a look at the different types and degrees of tooth fractures, as well as their symptoms:

Superficial Cracks

Often times, cracks are so tiny that they cause few or no symptoms. Treatment (when needed) involves making small repairs with cosmetic dentistry. If you’re having tooth pain, however, these cracks should be examined carefully. We can detect minor cracks using small instruments, special dye stains, or high-magnification instruments, such as intraoral cameras. If the crack penetrates beyond the enamel and into the dentin (inner body) of the tooth, further treatment options are provided.

Vertical Fractures

This type of fracture doesn’t separate the tooth completely. Symptoms vary from minor discomfort in response to temperature change (e.g., while drinking cold or hot beverages) to sharp pain while chewing. It is important not to ignore these symptoms, as cracked teeth require prompt dental treatment to prevent the injury from worsening.

A Split Tooth

Deep fractures (commonly called split teeth) are obvious due to complete separation of at least two parts of the tooth accompanied by extreme pain. The agony is this case is caused by inflammation of the tooth’s pulp. A split tooth should be treated immediately to limit infection; unfortunately, it is beyond saving and must be extracted.

Treatment Options

Which treatment is best for your cracked tooth? Much depends on the extent and severity of damage. A small crack that is detected early may be sealed with restorative materials. Larger fissures involving the pulp of the tooth generally require root canal treatment, followed by a restoration known as a crown or “cap,” which restores the appearance and maintains the strength of the tooth. In extreme cases, the tooth will need to be extracted.

Avoiding Cracked Teeth

How can you prevent cracking a tooth in the first place? Although certain trauma is unavoidable, precautionary measures can help. Refrain from chewing on hard objects such as ice or hard candy. If you play contact sports, be sure to wear the proper protective equipment, including a custom-fit mouthguard or protective mask. Finally, don’t miss your regular dental checkups! Our Yuba City dentists carefully examine your teeth for early problem signs. If you feel you might have a cracked tooth, make an appointment today — the sooner we begin treatment, the better the chance of saving your tooth!

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