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A guide to Cracked Teeth

A cracked tooth is something to worry about. Teeth that are cracked badly may leave your dentist with no other option but to extract them. Even teeth with merely superficial cracks can degrade if you do not have them looked at and patched up. If you crack a tooth, it is important that you get it looked at as a matter of urgency, so that your doctor can recommend the appropriate treatment.

One of the problems with cracked teeth is that there are different types of cracks and not all of them are easy to spot. Let’s say you are crunching on a boiled sweet and you feel a sharp pain in your tooth. You can be pretty sure that you’ve done some damage and you need to pay a visit to the dentist quick sharp.

However, not all cracks in your teeth happen so abruptly or obviously. In fact, you can have a tooth with a hairline crack that may not give you any pain at all. But what if that crack starts to grow? By the time you do start to notice the pain, it may be too late to save the tooth.

Discovering cracks in your teeth is one reason why paying regular visits to the dentist for check-ups is so important. Cracks do not show up on x-rays, but your dentist can spot hairline cracks using high-intensity lights. Through regular check-ups, you can ensure that your teeth get the early treatment they need to keep them in good health for the future.

If your dentist does spot a crack in your tooth, what might it look like and what can they do about it? Well let’s start with the most inoffensive first. Craze lines are very thin fractures in the surface of the enamel. A lot of us have them and they’re nothing to worry about. No treatment required.

A step up from craze lines is a cracked cusp. This is how dentists describe part of the outer tooth breaking off. A cracked cusp will cause some pain when you are eating, but the inner part of the tooth – the pulp and nerves – remain undamaged. It is usually repaired by your dentist using some dental bonding or, if the cusp is only slightly cracked, by some straightforward cosmetic re-shaping of the tooth’s edges.

So, a tooth can only really be called ‘cracked’ if there is a crack from the top down towards the root. This type of crack means that not only the outer surface of the tooth is damaged. It also means that the inner core of the tooth is exposed so it is open to infection, likely to trap food debris and likely to attract bacteria.

This type of cracked tooth is most likely going to require some more serious dental work. Depending on how long the crack has been there, there may be some decay which your dentist needs to clean up and clear away. Then, if any of the tooth can be salvaged, a crown will need to be fitted to protect the remaining parts of the tooth in future.

One of the major concerns for your dentist will be if the crack in your tooth extends below the gumline. This means that the root is damaged and, in many cases, the tooth will need to be extracted.

What happens if you fail to treat a cracked tooth? Often, given enough time, the cracked tooth will split completely. This will cause constant pain until the tooth is extracted as it is not possible to repair a split tooth.

There are lots of reasons why teeth crack, so you cannot always take preventative measures that will stop them. Many dentists believe that grinding your teeth in your sleep weakens them and makes the more likely to crack. So if you do grind your teeth, it may be the case that you should wear a mouthguard at night to protect your teeth. It helps if you are careful about what you eat too. However, the most important action you can take is probably to seek early treatment.

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