Cracked teeth can be incredibly irritating. From increasing your tooth sensitivity to impacting the appearance of your smile, they can be frustrating to deal with. Even though they can be frustrating, many people still choose to ignore a cracked tooth. But is it safe for your oral health to ignore a cracked tooth?
At David G. Johnson, DDS., we understand how frustrating it can be to deal with a cracked tooth. But, there are many downfalls to ignoring it. If you have recently cracked a tooth and are considering ignoring it, keep reading to learn about why that may be more detrimental to your overall oral health.
What is a Cracked Tooth?
A cracked tooth, also commonly referred to as a fractured tooth, occurs when a crack appears in your tooth. The size of the crack in your tooth can vary greatly based on the cause. They are most common among young children and older adults, though they are not exclusive to these age groups. There are a variety of ways in which you may crack your tooth, including:
- Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism
- Physical injuries, such as falls, sports accidents, or car accidents
- Large fillings that weaken the tooth
- Chewing on crunchy substances like nuts, ice, or hard candies
- Abrupt temperature changes in your mouth from hot or cold beverages
Types of Cracked Teeth
There are several common types of cracks that may appear on your teeth. These common cracks include:
- Cracked Tooth: A standard cracked tooth features a crack that runs from the surface of the tooth toward the gum line. However, it stops prior to the gum line.
- Craze Lines: Craze lines are very small cracks in the enamel of your teeth. These cracks cause no pain and don’t require immediate dental treatment.
- Split Tooth: A split tooth features a crack that extends from the surface of your tooth to below the gum line. With this type of crack, your tooth is split into two parts.
- Vertical Root Fracture: Vertical root fractures start below the gum line and travel toward the top edge of your tooth. They may not be irritating unless they become infected.
- Fractured Cusp: A fractured cusp forms around a dental filling. Though they may be cosmetically irritating, they do not usually cause any pain.
Signs You Have a Cracked Tooth
Some cracked teeth, like teeth with craze lines or fractured cusps, won’t exhibit any symptoms, which makes them easy to ignore. However, if you have a cracked tooth, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Pain that comes and goes, especially when chewing
- Sensitivity to sweets or especially warm or cold food
- Swelling of the tissue around the tooth
- Lingering toothaches when biting
Can You Ignore a Cracked Tooth?
With so many different cracks that can occur, you might believe that you can ignore a cracked tooth and carry about with regular activity. However, while you may be able to ignore a cracked tooth that has craze lines, the same cannot be said for other types of cracks. In fact, if you choose to ignore a cracked tooth, it may lead to more painful symptoms and more costly treatment over time.
Cracked teeth cannot heal themselves, and even if your crack starts small, leaving it untreated can lead to a weakening of the tooth. By seeking treatment, you can protect the tooth before the crack spreads or the tooth breaks. If you ignore a cracked tooth and it becomes weakened, you may become more susceptible to tooth decay.
As you ignore a cracked tooth and tooth decay begins to set in, you may even require a root canal. Avoiding a root canal may lead to damage spreading to surrounding teeth. Ultimately, if you ignore a cracked tooth, the cost of dental care will only continue to grow, so it is best to address it as soon as possible.
What to Do If You Crack a Tooth
It is in your best interest to not ignore a cracked tooth if at all possible. If your tooth has cracked, you should seek treatment from a trusted endodontist as soon as possible. Failing to treat the cracked tooth may result in even more damage to the tooth as well as the surrounding teeth. By going to your endodontist, you can prevent damage and treat any irritation as soon as it occurs.
There are a variety of ways to treat a cracked tooth, ensuring your tooth is strong enough to avoid recurring cracks and damage. In some cases, a root canal may be necessary to help protect the root from damage caused by the initial crack. This will help prevent damage to the pulp from causing more damage to the tooth overall.
It may also be necessary to add dental crowns to the tooth. Dental crowns are a great way to support weakened teeth. They are designed to slide over the top of damaged or weakened teeth. This allows you to maintain the full function of the tooth without exposing it to any additional damage.
Caring for Your Tooth After Treatment
Following treatment for your cracked tooth, it is important that you treat your mouth with care. Avoid chewing on hard foods, and instead stick with a soft diet of yogurts, potatoes, smoothies, and soups while your mouth heals from treatment. You may also want to take over-the-counter pain medication to help ease any discomfort.
Ensure that you are still brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day to prevent any other forms of damage to your teeth. You should also rinse your mouth at least three times a day with a warm salt water rinse. This will help prevent any infection spread and keep your mouth sanitized between brushing.
Finally, it is essential that you attend all necessary follow-up appointments with your endodontist. At these appointments, they can determine if you are healing appropriately and make recommendations if you are experiencing any discomfort. If you don’t have a follow-up appointment but have questions, feel free to call the office for advice.
Treatment for Cracked Teeth from an Endodontist You Can Trust
If you don’t want to ignore a cracked tooth anymore, you need to turn to a reliable endodontic team for help. With years of experience helping patients across Northern Utah treat their cracked teeth, our team at David G. Johnson, DDS., is confident that we can do the same for you. From root canals to 3D imaging and so much more, our team can help you achieve your healthiest smile. If you’ve recently received a dental injury and you’re trying to ignore a cracked tooth, don’t put off treatment any longer. Contact our team at our Centerville or Layton location to schedule an appointment today.