Did you know your teeth are coated in the hardest substance in your body? Believe it or not, the shiny white exterior of your tooth — known as enamel — is 96% mineral. That’s a higher percentage than in any other tissue in your body!
However, despite its strength and durability, that doesn’t mean it’s invincible. Instead, teeth are highly vulnerable to chips and cracks. In fact, they’re so common that 80% of dental patients over age 40 experience them. Not only can this be a painful and embarrassing problem, but it can cause issues later on.
Dr. Hannah Baek at Healthy Smile Dental in Woodridge, Illinois, understands the challenges that come with protecting your permanent teeth. That’s why she offers emergency dental care and solutions to fix issues when problems arise, including cracked teeth.
Cracked teeth may seem like a minor problem that you can ignore, but you should treat them as soon as possible to protect your oral and overall health.
Recognizing a cracked tooth
First things first. Numerous things can crack a tooth, even something that seems as harmless as eating crunchy food. Other causes of cracked teeth include:
- Chewing on gum, ice, popcorn kernels, hard candy, or non-food items like pens
- Teeth grinding
- Previous dental work, like root canals or large fillings
- Trauma to the mouth, like falls or sports injuries
Aging can also increase your chances of cracking a tooth, especially after age 50.
Because so many things can lead to a cracked tooth, it’s important to know how to spot the signs of a problem. For example, cracking a tooth may produce a little blood. But more often, it causes erratic pain in that spot in your mouth or sensitivity to cold, heat, or sweetness.
If you think you have a cracked tooth, it’s time to take action.
What to do if your tooth cracks
If you’ve cracked a tooth, contact our office immediately. If it’s after hours, leave a voicemail, which is forwarded to Dr. Baek. She promptly returns your call and helps guide you through the next steps until your office visit.
There are different kinds of cracked teeth requiring different forms of treatment. Most cracked teeth are repairable, at least to a certain degree. However, not all cracked teeth have the same treatment approach.
Craze lines (hairline cracks)
These breaks are tiny, superficial splits in the crown — the top — of your tooth. In most cases, they don’t cause pain, and they rarely require treatment or repair. Our team will watch them to ensure the cracks don’t widen, change, or otherwise threaten your tooth health.
These cracked teeth develop around a filling in your mouth. They usually don’t cause pain, and Dr. Baek can often fix them with relative ease.
Cracked teeth have a vertical line running from the crown to at least the gumline. If you have a crack ending at the gumline, Dr. Baek can often repair your tooth with a root canal. However, if the crack extends below the gumline into the root, you likely need a new tooth.
When you have a split tooth, the crack extends from the tooth surface below the gumline, essentially splitting your tooth in two. Sometimes, part of your tooth may be saved, but it could require additional cosmetic dentistry treatments.
Vertical root fracture
These sneaky cracks start at the bottom of your tooth root and slowly work their way up to the biting surface of your tooth. In many cases, they don’t cause pain or symptoms until infection develops, which makes them more difficult to spot.
No matter what kind of cracked tooth you have, Dr. Baek can help restore your smile and protect your oral health moving forward, whether you need a root canal, a crown or bridge, or veneers.
If you have pain, sensitivity, or sustained trauma to your mouth, you could have a cracked tooth. Don’t wait to have it checked out; contact Healthy Smile Dental at 630-910-1900 today, or book an appointment online.