How to Identify and Treat a Cracked Tooth

brunette woman reading a book and holding her jaw in pain
Author: cmcgovern Posted: December 24th, 2020 Category:

What are the symptoms of a cracked tooth? How do you treat it? Here’s everything you need to know.

The coronavirus pandemic has changed every aspect of daily life, including our oral health. Many Americans are baking to pass the time — others may forget to floss because, understandably, it’s the last thing on their minds right now. As such, dentists across the country have seen a rise in cavities and oral health issues in their patients. 

They’re also seeing an increased number of cracked teeth. In this article, we’re breaking down the common causes and symptoms of cracked teeth and exploring what treatments are available. 

Do You Have a Cracked Tooth?

A cracked tooth is simply a tooth that has become broken somehow, and these fractures can take a variety of forms. For example, a full-fledged cracked tooth occurs when a crack runs down the surface of the tooth, below the gumline, and deep down into the root. If left untreated, a cracked tooth can become a split tooth, where the tooth splits into two distinct parts. Craze lines, on the other hand, are tiny cracks that only appear on your tooth enamel and don’t cause any pain.

Cracked teeth are usually caused by excessive teeth grinding or clenching over time, which is a common response to stress. But conditions like gum disease can also make you more susceptible to cracked teeth because it causes bone loss and makes your teeth more fragile. Finally, taking a hard hit to the jaw or accidentally biting down on something hard like a meat bone can crack your teeth very suddenly. Symptoms of cracked teeth include:

  • Pain when chewing or biting 
  • Newfound sensitivity to sweets and hot or cold foods
  • Swollen gums around the cracked tooth
  • General discomfort around the teeth or gums that’s hard to identify

If your cracked tooth is severe and needs immediate attention, you’ll be able to identify it by sight or the painful symptoms you experience. If the crack isn’t visible but you still suspect something is wrong, your dentist will have to make a diagnosis by examining your teeth under a magnifying glass.

How to Treat a Cracked Tooth

Cracked teeth can be serious and keep you from putting your best smile forward, but there are many treatment options available. If the crack is tiny, you might not need any treatment at all or your dentist may simply buff, round, and polish the sharp edges of the tooth to blend away the crack.

Other treatments for cracked teeth include: 

  • Bonding — Your dentist fills the crack in your tooth with a plastic resin, restoring its shape. This treatment is best for small chips off the biting edge of the tooth.
  • Veneers — Your dentist places a thin layer of porcelain over the front surface of the tooth, concealing the crack and preventing it from getting bigger. Veneers are long-lasting, and your dentist won’t have to remove most of the damaged tooth.
  • Crowns — Your dentist places a crown over what’s left of the damaged tooth to strengthen it and give it the appearance of a healthy tooth. If your nerve has been damaged or the tooth has become infected, you might have to have a root canal first. Your dentist will only recommend a crown if your cracked tooth cannot be repaired with a veneer.

There’s no surefire way to stop your teeth from cracking in the future, but you can take preventative measures. If you grind your teeth at night, invest in a mouthguard. Avoid clenching your teeth during the day. You can do this by making sure you’re not holding any tension in your jaw — your teeth should only touch when you’re eating. Finally, get rid of any habits that could damage your teeth like biting pen caps or chewing ice.   

Consult a Dentist

If you’re showing any signs of a cracked tooth, consult your dentist right away! A cracked tooth is treatable if you catch it in time. If you’re in the Denver, Colorado area, contact the dental professionals at Espire to schedule an appointment to treat your cracked tooth. We’ve always been committed to providing a clean, professional, and anxiety-free dental experience to our patients, and we’ve ramped up our safety processes in response to COVID-19. Reach out if you have any questions — we’ll happily address any concerns you might have!