Although our teeth are the hardest substances in our body, they aren’t invincible to physical trauma. It is possible to crack your teeth. Things like biting too hard on a piece of candy, catching an elbow in the face during a basketball game, or falling down can all result in a cracked tooth. The most important thing you can do is treat enamel cracks immediately in order to avoid a dangerous tooth fracture.
While it may seem that these fractures happen out of nowhere, they’re usually related to cracked tooth syndrome, which has three stages:
- Stage one – tiny cracks, known as craze lines, develop in the enamel. They are fairly shallow and by themselves, are not dangerous. However; these develop into the second stage eventually.
- Stage two – the craze lines have deepened into a bigger crack that affects the dentin as well.
- Stage three – full tooth fracture that can extend to the root. At this stage, the tooth is at risk of loss, especially if the pulp is exposed.
Unfortunately, craze lines are too small to detect with x-rays. They can be found through other methods, such as using an explorer to feel for cracks, or using special lights and dye stains.
Treatment of the crack will depend on what stage it is in. There are several options for a cracked tooth. Bonding involves the use of composite resin to fill in and seal the crack. This is the easiest and cheapest way to repair a cracked tooth, however it is also the weakest method. It’s better suited to teeth that aren’t exposed to as much bite pressure – such as the front teeth.
A crown can also be used to repair a cracked tooth. Using this method will depend on how much of the original tooth remains. After all, there has to be enough tooth left for the crown to bond to. If the crack is deep enough that the pulp is affected, a root canal is in order, because the inflamed pulp needs to be treated before the damage is repaired.
If the tooth is not salvageable at all, or if the crack extends below the gumline, a dental implant will be used to replace the damaged tooth. The original tooth will have to be removed first, and then the implant will be installed.
A cracked tooth can turn nasty very quickly, so it’s important to see a dentist immediately if you suspect that one of your teeth have cracked. Set up an appointment with Dr. Chauvin today!