With their more sophisticated procedures, dentists are helping people keep their teeth longer. Because people are living longer and more stressful lives, they are exposing their teeth to many more years of crack-inducing habits, such as clenching, grinding and chewing on hard objects. These habits make our teeth more susceptible to cracks.
Cracked teeth show a variety of symptoms, including erratic pain when chewing (possibly with release of biting pressure), or pain when your tooth is exposed to temperature extremes. In many cases, the pain may come and go and your dentist may have difficulty locating which tooth is causing the discomfort.
Early diagnosis is important. Even with high magnification and special lighting, it is sometimes difficult to determine the extent of a crack. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen, eventually resulting in the loss of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in saving these teeth.
Vertical Root Fracture
Unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth will not heal. In spite of treatment, some cracks may continue to progress and separate, resulting in loss of the tooth. Placement of a crown on a cracked tooth provides maximum protection but does not guarantee success in all cases.
The treatment you receive for your cracked tooth is important because it will relieve pain and reduce the likelihood that the crack will worsen. Once treated, most cracked teeth continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing. Talk to your endodontist about your particular diagnosis and treatment recommendations. S/he will advise you on how to keep your natural teeth and achieve optimum dental health.
While cracked teeth are not completely preventable, you can take some steps to make your teeth less susceptible to cracks.
- Do not chew on hard objects such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels or pens.
- Do not clench or grind your teeth.
- If you clench or grind your teeth while you sleep, talk to your dentist about getting a retainer or other mouthguard to protect your teeth.
- Wear a mouthguard or protective mask when playing contact sports.