A cracked or chipped tooth can result from natural causes or trauma. Even though tooth enamel is the hardest surface in the body, they can still be damaged through everyday activities. Leaving a cracked tooth untreated can lead to losing the tooth altogether. Cracked or chipped teeth can be easily treated by a dentist.
Causes of Cracked or Chipped Teeth
- Grinding your teeth – People often grind or clench their teeth in their sleep, and don’t even know they’re doing it. Grinding one’s teeth for years can cause tooth damage, particularly to the enamel. Stress fractures or craze lines (very small cracks in the enamel) often appear as brown lines in the teeth, particularly the molars. These fractures or lines don’t necessarily mean the entire tooth is going to crack, but without dental treatment they can get worse.
- Old or large fillings – Cavity fillings last many years, but if they are especially old or large, they can crack the remaining part of the natural tooth. Large fillings weaken the integrity of the tooth and cause it to crack.
- Chewing hard foods – Eating very hard foods such as nuts, ice, candy, popcorn and more can crack or chip teeth if the enamel is weak.
- Trauma – Getting hit in the mouth forcefully can cause a chip or cracked tooth.
- Drastic temperature changes – Eating or drinking something extremely hot and then trying to cool your mouth with ice water can cause teeth to expand and then contract. Over time, tiny cracks may develop.
- Aging – Teeth naturally get weaker as we get older, leaving them more prone to cracks and chips from the above causes.
Sometimes having a crack or chip in the tooth is not always obvious. Symptoms of a crack in the tooth include pain when chewing or biting, sensitivity to hot or cold and swelling of the gum. Treatment of a cracked or chipped tooth depends on the size of the crack, where it’s located, your symptoms, and whether the crack extends into the gum line.
- Crown – A crown is a cover for the tooth usually made of porcelain or ceramic that is fitted over the damaged tooth. In order to fit a crown, a dentist first shaves off some enamel from the real tooth to make room for the crown, which is fit over your real tooth and then bonded to it.
- Bonding – For a minor cracked tooth, a dentist may use a plastic resin to fill the crack, restoring its look and eliminating any pain or sensitivity.
- Root canal – If a crack or chip has damaged enough of the tooth that it extends to the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary to ensure the tooth doesn’t become infected or need to be extracted altogether. After a root canal, a crown is typically fitted over the tooth.
- Extraction – If the damage to the tooth is too extensive, particularly if it goes to the gum line, we may recommend removing the tooth altogether and putting in an implant. Dr. Djuric is one of the leading implant dentists in the Gulf Coast.
Treatment of a cracked or chipped tooth varies depending on the severity of the injury. Sometimes no treatment is required at all, and it just needs to be monitored. The best way to protect your teeth is to see a dentist to have them evaluate the chip or crack and see the optimal way to manage it.
If you think you may have a chipped or cracked tooth, please call us today at (850) 542-4428 to schedule a consultation.