A cracked tooth can happen at any time. It is more common in adults because your tooth enamel weakens as you age. If a tooth has thin and brittle enamel, all it takes is for you to bite down on something hard, grinding your teeth, or getting bumped in the mouth to cause a crack to develop.
In many cases a cracked tooth is an easy fix. In other cases, the tooth may not be able to be fixed at all. It all depends on the type and extent of the crack. If you have a cracked tooth, here’s what you need to know about getting it taken care of.
Types of Cracks in Teeth
There are a few different types of cracks that develop in teeth:
- Craze lines. Over time teeth develop tiny hairline cracks in the enamel called craze lines. They are only surface deep and cause no pain
- Cracked tooth. A typical crack in a tooth will start in the crown of the tooth and extend toward the root of the tooth. Whether or not you feel any pain associated with a cracked tooth varies based on the depth of the crack.
- Vertical root fracture. A tooth may develop a crack that starts in the root under the gumline and extends toward the crown of the tooth. This type may cause pain that is difficult to diagnose because the crack is often not visible above the gums.
- Split tooth. When a crack in the crown of a tooth extends under the gum line, it is called a split tooth because the tooth is essentially split in half. Even if the two halves are still connected by some tooth material, it is called a split tooth. A split tooth is likely to be painful as the crack extends into the root of the tooth.
Repairing a Cracked Tooth
The repair options for a cracked tooth vary by the type of crack. Craze lines do not require any treatment in most cases. They are not deep enough to reach the roots or allow bacteria to infect the tooth. A cracked tooth that is discovered before the crack reaches the gumline can most likely be treated with a root canal and crown. A vertical root fracture or a split tooth are likely too extensive to be repaired and the tooth will need to be extracted.
Why Does a Cracked Tooth Need a Root Canal?
When a crack develops in a tooth that is deep enough to reach through the enamel and dentin to the inner chamber, the root canal, it is at risk of developing an infection. The root canal contains dental pulp, soft tissue made up of blood vessels and nerves that sustains the tooth as it is developing. The pulp is susceptible to infection if bacteria gets into the root canal, which can happen when a tooth is cracked. The best case scenario is to discover the crack and treat the tooth before a painful infection occurs.
During root canal treatment the dental pulp is removed and the tooth is flushed out and disinfected. The tooth is then filled with a rubbery material that fortifies the tooth and prevents reinfection. A crown is placed over the tooth to protect the remainder of the tooth material and the root.
Lindemann Root Canal Specialists Treat Cracked Teeth
A cracked tooth is best treated by an endodontist. Endodontists specialize in saving damaged or at-risk teeth, providing treatments and procedures that will restore the natural teeth when possible. At Lindemann Root Canal Specialists we make it our goal to save your natural teeth if we can, using innovative techniques to repair cracked teeth and restore your dental health.