Did you know that tooth enamel, the hard outer surface of your tooth, is the hardest substance in your body? It's even harder than bone, providing essential protection for a healthy and functional smile throughout your life. However, factors like traumatic injuries or everyday habits such as teeth grinding, clenching, and chewing can lead to cracked teeth, which can cause pain and compromise the health and longevity of your smile.
Although cracked teeth may not be visible to the naked eye, you can often feel them. Biting down or chewing may cause pressure or discomfort, and certain teeth may become highly sensitive to temperature changes. Cracked teeth are painful because the enamel and dentin, the hard tissues of the tooth, are meant to shield the tooth pulp where the nerves are located. When the enamel and dentin are cracked, the pulp may become exposed and easily irritated. Such infections not only result in pain but can also affect surrounding tissues such as bone and gums.
Treating Cracked Teeth
The appropriate endodontic treatment for cracked teeth depends on the severity of the issue. Fine, shallow cracks known as "craze lines" typically do not cause pain and usually do not require treatment. In cases where a piece of the tooth's chewing surface breaks off, such as fractured cusps, a crown is often a straightforward solution if the pulp is undamaged.
For more severe cases, a vertical crack that extends from the chewing surface towards the root may be present. If the crack has not extended beyond the gum line, it can often be treated, frequently with a root canal procedure. However, cracks that extend beyond the gum line and into the root are typically challenging to treat, and extraction of the tooth may be necessary. That's why it is crucial to promptly contact an Endodontist if you experience pain or suspect a cracked tooth.
Preventing Cracked Teeth
Preventing cracked teeth is essential to avoid extensive endodontic treatment or the need for extraction. To protect your teeth, it's important to address teeth clenching or grinding habits by using a mouth guard or other suitable device. Additionally, it's crucial to avoid chewing on hard objects such as ice and unpopped popcorn kernels. By taking these preventive measures, you can reduce the risk of developing or worsening cracked teeth.