The thin outer covering of teeth is called enamel. It is a hard shell that makes the visible part of your teeth. It is responsible for protecting your teeth when you bite, chew, or grind. It also protects your teeth from extreme temperatures and chemicals. Even though teeth enamel is the hardest part of your body, it can crack and chip. A tooth crack is too small to show up on the X-ray. Most of the time, cracks affect molars and wisdom teeth.
Biting on hard things such as ice cubes, non-food items, nuts, and other hard substances.
Teeth grinding using too much force.
Blunt trauma from accidents, sports, and other injuries.
Sudden change in temperature when you bite cold things followed by hot things and vice versa.
If you get a filling that is too large and it exerts pressure on your tooth.
Aging also causes teeth to crack due to wear and tear.
Cracked teeth present in different ways. Small cracks on the enamel that are barely noticeable are called craze lines. They don’t cause pain or discomfort. A fractured cusp is a crack that forms around a dental filling. It can go deep and reach the pulp of the tooth and cause pain in the tooth. Vertical cracks that reach the gumline are serious, and they require treatment. They can introduce bacteria that cause infection in the tooth.
A crack that goes from the enamel to the surface below the gumline causes a split tooth. This is an extensive crack that requires dental intervention. Vertical tooth fractures are cracks that start from the root and travel upward to the surface. They open the tooth up for infections if not treated in time.
Different types of cracks in teeth have different symptoms. You experience sporadic pain when you bite and chew. Unlike a cavity, pain from a cracked tooth is not continuous. It occurs when you eat certain foods or when you bite down in a specific way. Your tooth feels sensitive to cold, hot, and sweet foods. A cracked tooth can cause swelling gums.
At times, infectious bacteria can infect the gum line near the crack site. The gum develops a painful bump near the crack site. Cracks have no visible signs. If your tooth is in pain with no holes or visible infections, then you may be having a crack.
If you experience pain from a cracked tooth, you can take over-the-counter pain relief medication. You can also gargle salty water after meals to reduce the chances of an infection. Brush your teeth after meals and use mouthwash for extra cleaning. However, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible for a professional evaluation.
Treatment of a cracked tooth varies with the severity of the crack. Small cracks can be left to observation. Severe cracks are treated with a crown. If the tooth cannot be salvaged, an extraction may be the only option.
For more information on dental care, visit Castro Valley Dentistry at our offices in Castro Valley, California. You can also call (510) 674-0900 to schedule an appointment.