Fractured Tooth: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments for Cracked Tooth
The term “fractured tooth” refers to a condition where a crack appears in a tooth. In some cases, the crack may be small and harmless. However, it is not uncommon for tooth fractures to make the teeth split or break.
Cracked teeth are common in older people, although people of all ages can get tooth fractures. In this detailed guide, we will take a deeper look at cracked tooth syndrome (CTS). We will help you understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What Causes the Cracked Tooth Syndrome (CTS)?
Tooth fractures have several causes, including:
- Teeth grinding.
- Oversized tooth fillings – these can weaken the tooth’s integrity.
- Biting or chewing hard foods – these could include hard candy, nuts, and ice.
- Blows to your mouth – these can be caused by sports injuries, car accidents, falls, or fistfights.
- Abrupt changes in your mouth’s temperature – for example, if you consume something extremely hot and then immediately try to cool the mouth with ice water.
- Age – Tooth fractures are more common in people above the age of 50.
Types of Tooth Fractures
Tooth cracks can show up as:
1. Fractured Cusp
This type of tooth fracture appears around dental fillings. In most cases, it does not affect the tooth’s pulp. The pulp refers to the tooth’s center where blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue reside. The fact that this fracture does not affect the pulp means it does not cause a lot of pain.
2. Craze Lines
These super-small cracks appear in the tooth’s outer covering (the enamel). Craze lines do not cause pain and rarely require treatment.
3. Fractures Extending into Your Gumline
These are vertical cracks that extend through the tooth. In cases where the crack hasn’t reached the gumline, the tooth can be saved. However, in cases where the crack has already reached the gumline, the tooth may require extraction.
4. Split Tooth
This is a tooth fracture that extends from the tooth’s surface to below your gum line. This type of fracture does not allow the dentist to save the entire tooth – in the best-case scenario, the dentist can only save a portion of the tooth.
5. Vertical Root Crack/Fracture
This tooth fracture starts below your gumline and moves upwards. In most cases, the crack does not show symptoms. However, symptoms may appear if your tooth suffers an infection. With this type of fracture, tooth extraction may be necessary.
Symptoms of Fractured Tooth
Not all tooth fractures produce symptoms. However, when a fractured tooth produces symptoms, they will include:
- Pain when undergoing orthodontic treatment. For example, when working with Straight Teeth Invisible to improve your teeth with transparent teeth aligners, you may feel extremepain.
- You may experience pain when biting or chewing. This pain tends to appear when you release your bite.
- Your teeth may become sensitive to sweetness, cold, or heat.
- You may experience pain that comes and then goes.
- Your gum may start swelling. This swelling appears around the cracked tooth.
Treatment Options for Tooth Fractures
If you notice the signs and symptoms mentioned above, visiting the dentist should help you determine whether you are suffering from a tooth fracture or a different condition. If the dentist confirms that you have a tooth fracture, he/she may use the following solutions:
1. Dental Bonding
This treatment option involves using a plastic resin to fill the tooth fracture. This restores the tooth’s function and appearance.
2. Dental Crown
This is a prosthetic device that is manufactured using ceramic or porcelain. It fits over the cracked tooth.
To fit your dental crown, your dentist may shave off some of your tooth’s enamel to create room for the crown. The dentist will then create the tooth’s impression, pick a crown color that matches your teeth, and then send this information to a lab for crown manufacture.
The process may take several weeks. However, when the crown is ready, the dentist will fit it over the fractured tooth and cement it.
With modern technology, people rarely have to wait for weeks before getting their dental crown. Some dentists can prepare the crown in their offices and install it on the same day.
With good care, dental crowns last a lifetime.
3. Root Canal
If the tooth fracture extends into your tooth pulp, the dentist may suggest a root canal. This procedure involves removing the damaged pulp to restore integrity to the affected tooth.
A root canal procedure will keep your tooth from weakening further or catching an infection.
4. Tooth Extraction
If the tooth crack has damaged the tooth’s structure, including the root and nerves, tooth removal may be the most ideal solution.
5. No Treatment
Most people have very small, hairline fractures in their tooth’s enamel. If these fractures do not affect the tooth’s appearance or produce pain, the dentist may advise you to leave the cracks alone.