Do you ever feel a painful zing when you bite into something, but you can't spot a cavity? The problem might be caused by a single cracked tooth. Most patients feel cracks long before they are diagnosed, because cracks disrupt the structural integrity of the tooth. Cracks can be incredibly difficult to diagnose because they can be anywhere from the crown of the tooth clear down to the hidden root. Also, most dental cracks won't show up on X-Rays, since they need to be parallel to the beam to show up in the images. But if you have a cracked tooth, your tooth may buckle and move apart slightly when you eat or clench your jaw, irritating the interior pulp and causing a sharp pain.
Tooth fractures are dangerous because they can introduce bacteria into the tooth's interior, which can lead to serious infections referred to as abscesses. Left untreated, dental fractures can cause tooth loss, osteomyelitis (a bone infection), sepsis (a blood infection), or cavernous sinus thrombosis (a potentially life-threatening blood clot).
Fortunately, our dentists offer a wide variety of treatments for dental fractures. The way your dental crack is treated will depend on where the crack is located and whether or not there are signs of infection. Blue dyes may be used to help us uncover the crack, and X-Rays will be used to check for infections that may have spread into your jaw. After we know where the crack is located and how deep the problem lies, we will recommend one of these treatment options:
If your dental fracture is shallow and hasn't penetrated the deeper parts of the tooth, our dentists may recommend simple dental bonding. During cosmetic bonding, a tooth-colored composite resin is used to fill in the crack and cover the surrounding area. The material is smoothed to match your surrounding tooth and polished to blend in. Cosmetic bonding will seal the tooth and improve its appearance.
If you have a large fracture on the front of your tooth, you might be left with an unsightly visual flaw in addition to a painful smile. However, dental veneers, which are thin, porcelain or resin laminates that can be cemented to the front of your tooth, can be used to seal the fracture and restore your smile. Since veneers are composed of a solid sheet of material, they are stronger than dental bonding and recommended for more extensive visible fractures.
If your tooth has been through several restorations, contains multiple cracks, or has fractures that weaken the cusp of the tooth, dental crowns might be needed to improve the structural integrity of the tooth. Crowns serve multiple purposes. In addition to covering the tooth and sealing out bacteria and food particles, crowns also hold the natural tooth together, so that it won't split apart.
If you play sports or grind your teeth at night, invest in a custom mouth guard. These customized guards cushion your teeth, protecting them from impact. Mouth guards are affordable and incredibly effective, preserving the look and feel of your smile.
Avoid opening packages with your teeth, clenching your teeth, chewing ice, or biting down on hard objects. All of these habits can cause teeth to fail, leading to painful cracks.
If you suspect that you have cracked teeth, make an appointment for an exam today! Our office is currently accepting new patients, and we look forward to serving you.