A cracked tooth is no laughing matter, although it may not always be immediately painful. If left untreated, a small crack can result in a big fracture, which leads to tooth loss or an increased chance of tooth decay. The following guide can help you determine whether you have a cracked tooth along with providing you with some treatment options.
Know the symptoms
The issues with many fine tooth cracks is that they don't easily show on x-rays, especially if they are just under the gum line. Instead, you must be mindful of the following symptoms:
Pain when biting down or chewing.
Hot or cold sensitivity on one side of the mouth.
Floss feels like it is snagging, especially near the gum line.
Keep in mind that these symptoms are not unique to a cracked tooth. For example, plaque buildup can also lead to floss snags. But if you experience these symptoms, let your dentist know so they can rule out other causes and determine if a crack is the problem.
The method of treatment depends on the severity of the crack and your overall dental health. For a hairline crack that is causing minimal pain, the dentist may opt to place a crown over the tooth. This will prevent bacteria from getting into the tooth and causing a cavity or infections, which can save you from a filling, root canal, or extraction down the road. Bonding, where the dentist covers the tooth with a resin and shapes it to look like the natural tooth, is also an option.
Deeper cracks or ones that are already showing cavity symptoms may require drilling out the damage and the placement of a traditional filling. If the damage is well below the gum line or on the root of the tooth, your dentist may recommend extraction and the placement of an implant to replace the tooth.
Not all cracks are avoidable, but a few tips can help prevent them. First, avoid chewing on hard candy or ice. This is especially important if you have had cracked teeth in the past, since you may be prone to this sort of damage. When playing contact sports, wear a mouth guard so your teeth don't crunch together and cause cracks. Grinding your teeth, especially when you are asleep, can also weaken the enamel and makes cracks more likely. Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard for sleep, which will greatly diminish this problem.
For more information, contact a local clinic like Family First Dentistry LLC.