A cracked tooth can be a cause of intermittent or permanent pain. If you experience pain when biting down or increased sensitivity when eating or drinking hot or cold foods, it can be a symptom of a cracked tooth.
There are several reasons you can develop a cracked tooth. Fractures on your teeth can develop due to:
If the crack in your tooth is superficial, Dr. Colin M. McKinney and Dr. McKinney at Colin M. McKinney, DMD may not recommend any treatment for it. However, deeper cracks will need to be repaired.
Types of Tooth Cracks
There are five types of tooth cracks identified by the American Association of Endodontists. These include:
Craze lines are superficial fractures on the outer surface of the tooth or the enamel. They do not penetrate the dentin and are often the result of blunt force trauma or other recurring high-pressure force on your teeth, like bruxism or jaw clenching. Craze lines typically do not have any symptoms. If you are worried about your esthetics, they can be treated with bonding. In addition, TMJ bruxism treatment and prevention of excessive force to the teeth can also prevent them from occurring.
A fractured cusp is a complete or incomplete fracture of the dental crown which extends below the gum line. This fracture is caused by dental trauma or excessive force on the teeth. In some cases, the fractured cusp may break off from the rest of the tooth but will remain attached to the gum tissue. This will result in increased sensitivity to temperature or pain when biting down. To eliminate the discomfort, we will remove the broken tooth from the gum tissue. Depending on the extent and severity of the fracture, we may recommend root canal therapy or a crown lengthening procedure. In most cases, however, the dental pulp is not damaged. We may also recommend the use of onlays or crowns to maintain the integrity of the tooth.
A cracked tooth is an incomplete fracture that starts from the crown and extends to below the gumline. This crack may be contained within the crown of the tooth or extend to the tooth root. Since this crack extends vertically, there is a higher chance of damage to the dental pulp. Depending on the severity of the crack, you may experience pain when biting down or no pain at all. Excessive biting force is one of the causes that can lead to a cracked tooth. In addition, marginal ridges and undermined cusps can also result in a higher risk of a cracked tooth. If the crack has damaged the pulp, we may recommend root canal therapy to disinfect the pulp and save the tooth. You may also have to get rid of harmful habits like clenching your teeth and will have to use protective measures like wearing a mouthguard when playing sports so that your tooth may have a long life.
A split tooth is the complete fracture of the tooth that starts from the crown, splits the tooth in the middle and extends to the tooth root. The split may develop suddenly as a result of trauma or it may develop over a long time from an incomplete crack. Once again, harmful habits like teeth clenching and chewing very hard objects can exacerbate a cracked tooth and lead to splitting. In some cases, you may also experience pre-existing pain when chewing. The only way to ensure the health of your mouth is to remove the tooth entirely. We may then discuss tooth replacement options like dental implants and bridges with you.
Vertical Root Fracture
A vertical root fracture is a crack that originates in the root of the tooth and extends towards the crown. Again, this type of tooth crack may or may not have any symptoms and are often only discovered on routine dental x-rays or when the surrounding tissues of the tooth become infected. In most cases, the only treatment for vertical root fracture is tooth extraction. However, in some cases, root canal procedures may be effective if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removing the fractured tooth root. Your tooth is unlike your bone and will not heal if it is cracked. Despite our very best efforts, some tooth cracks may continue to grow, resulting in the eventual loss of the tooth. Root canal therapy and placement of a crown to protect the tooth can be effective in some cases but not all.
At Colin M. McKinney, DMD, Dr. Colin M. McKinney and Dr. McKinney can offer you treatment for your cracked tooth, eliminate pain and infection, and reduce the risk of it getting worse.
If you notice or suspect that you have a cracked tooth, you should treat it as a medical emergency and schedule an appointment with us by calling (772) 266-2223. Earlier detection can help save your tooth and extend its life.