Most people are not prepared for a cracked tooth. Fortunately, a cracked tooth may not always result in the loss of a tooth. Read on and find out more about various types of cracks.
How Cracks Happen
If you've had a cracked tooth, you may already know how easily it can happen. You don't have to be involved in contact sports like hockey to end up with a cracked tooth. Cracks can occur when eating hard foods like candy, as the result of a fall, or from things like car accidents or blows. Any time your enamel is breached, a crack can happen. Sometimes, you might only notice a hairline crack when you visit your dentist for a regular cleaning. In other cases, you might notice some pain from a cold drink or food. If the crack is more serious, however, fast action is necessary if you want to save the tooth.
Cracks Vary in Seriousness
Knowing what type of crack you have is important because different types of cracks require different remedies. The most common (and least urgent) is a hairline vertical crack on a tooth. This kind of crack is shallow and feels relatively smooth. Most importantly, hairline cracks do not extend to the pulp. Unfortunately, even minor cracks like this should be seen to because it only takes a tiny space for bacteria to invade the tooth, and that can lead to a cavity or gum disease.
Crazing is similar to a hairline crack but is not actually a crack, at least not in most cases. Crazing can be felt with the tongue, but what is felt may be etchings and not cracks. Often, these tiny fissures are seen only by dental hygienists and may not need any treatment unless they get worse.
A split tooth is a lot more serious and involves the complete breakage of a tooth. Pieces of the tooth might come loose in your mouth. Try to locate any broken pieces and preserve them in water or milk. You can usually find tooth-preserving kits at the pharmacy as well. Call your dentist right away. In some cases, teeth can be bonded back together and reinserted in your mouth. Unfortunately, this type of crack may result in a missing tooth that has to be replaced with an implant, bridge, or denture.
A fracture happens to a tooth that has been previously filled. Teeth with fillings are often weaker than other teeth and are prone to breakage. The filling will need to be redone and a crown may need to be placed to stabilize the tooth.
Phone your dentist at the first sign of a crack to find out more.