Cracks in teeth can be a ‘ticking time bomb’ just waiting to catch you out at an inconvenient time. Cracks can be present for years and seem superficial and harmless but then suddenly give way and cause half of your tooth to fracture. Cracks can propagate, like a crack in a windscreen, and can have devastating results. If a crack extends down on to the root surface of a tooth, usually the only option for the tooth is extraction.
Cracks can occur for a number of reasons:
- Large fillings, especially amalgam
- Biting on hard foods – nuts, ice, hard lollies
- Root treated teeth
Signs/symptoms of a cracked tooth:
- Short, sharp pain on biting (cracked tooth syndrome)
- Deep pocket under gum line
- Crack lines visible on tooth
- Portion of filling/tooth fractured
How do I prevent cracks?
- Limit bruxing/clenching of teeth
- Limit crunching on hard foods
- Strengthen teeth that have been root treated ie.placing a crown
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sport
What to do if I do have a cracked tooth?
Cracks in teeth never heal. They sometimes stabilise but more often than not they progressively get worse over time. Reducing the stress on teeth can help preserve the crack or at least slow down the progression. There are a number of options for cracked teeth but sometimes it is better to take a proactive approach, rather than waiting for the tooth to split before you do anything about it. Removing the crack and placing a filling is a good option if the existing filling and crack is small. Removing the existing filling and crack and placing a crown over the tooth is the optimal long-term option, as this gives the tooth strength.