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A cracked tooth may seem like a minor dental issue, but it can quickly escalate into a significant problem if left untreated. Many people underestimate the seriousness of a cracked tooth. However, in reality, ignoring a cracked tooth can lead to severe pain, complications, and even tooth loss.
Repairing a Cracked Tooth
A cracked tooth is when a tooth has a visible or invisible fracture or split. This crack can vary in size and severity, ranging from minor surface cracks to deep fractures that extend into the inner layers of the tooth. Cracked teeth can result from various factors, including biting on hard objects, trauma, teeth grinding (bruxism), or even natural wear and tear over time.
How to repair a cracked tooth depends on the extent and location of the crack. For minor surface cracks or cosmetic issues, dental bonding or veneers may be suitable solutions. However, when the crack is deeper and compromises the tooth’s structural integrity or exposes the inner pulp, more extensive treatments may be required.
Why You Should See Your Dentist ASAP
In all cases, it’s important to consult with your dentist right away if you suspect you have a cracked tooth. Here are some of the biggest reasons why.
Pain and Discomfort
Even if the crack is small, it can expose the more sensitive inner layers of your tooth, including the pulp and nerve. When these delicate structures are exposed, you may experience sharp, shooting pain whenever you bite down or expose your tooth to hot or cold temperatures. The pain can be intermittent or persistent, but it is likely to worsen over time if the crack goes untreated.
Risk of Infection
A cracked tooth creates an entry point for bacteria to infiltrate the inner layers of the tooth. Once bacteria enter, they can cause an infection, leading to a condition known as a dental abscess. Dental abscesses are not only extremely painful but can also pose serious health risks.
Simply put, a cracked tooth is more susceptible to tooth decay. As we mentioned, the crack creates a hiding place for bacteria and food particles, making it difficult to clean the affected area properly. As a result, tooth decay can develop rapidly, leading to the need for fillings or more extensive dental work.
If you continue to ignore a cracked tooth, the crack may deepen and extend further into the tooth structure. This can weaken the tooth and make it more prone to fracturing. A fractured tooth can be even more painful and may require more extensive treatment, such as a dental crown or, in severe cases, extraction.
A cracked tooth can also affect your gums. The sharp edges of the cracked tooth can irritate the surrounding gum tissue, leading to inflammation and potential gum disease. Over time, gum disease can result in gum recession as well as loose teeth or tooth loss.
Changes in Bite and Tooth Alignment
Believe it or not, a cracked tooth can disrupt your natural bite and tooth alignment. When you have a cracked tooth, you may unconsciously change your chewing habits to avoid putting pressure on the affected tooth. This alteration in your bite can lead to uneven wear on your teeth and may result in further dental problems over time. Additionally, untreated cracked teeth can contribute to bite misalignment, potentially causing jaw pain and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders.
What to Do If You Have a Cracked Tooth
If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, schedule an appointment with our office as soon as possible.
In the meantime, you can take some steps to minimize discomfort and prevent further damage to the cracked tooth:
- Avoid chewing on the side of the mouth with the cracked tooth.
- Stick to soft foods and avoid crunchy or hard foods.
- Practice good oral hygiene. Make sure you continue good brushing and flossing routines to minimize the risk of infection and tooth decay.
- Use a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth to help alleviate pain and discomfort.
- Rinsing your mouth gently with some warm saltwater can help reduce inflammation and infection.
And remember, a cracked tooth is not a minor issue that can be ignored. Don’t hesitate to call if you think you have a cracked tooth or if you have any other dental symptoms.