What is the treatment for cracked teeth?

A cracked tooth is a tooth that has broken, often as a result of a blow to the jaw, teeth grinding, chewing something hard or gum disease.

A tooth can crack in a variety of ways. It can be cracked from the surface right down to the root; or small jagged cracks on the outer surface; a crack on the ‘cusp’ or biting edge of the tooth or split into two parts.

If your tooth is cracked then the first indication that something is wrong is likely to be pain when you chew something. You may also notice a small swelling near the tooth. Heightened sensitivity to hot or cold drinks or sweet things is another indication.

If you notice that you have a cracked tooth then your first step is to contact your dentist. He or she will look at the tooth and may take an x-ray as well. However, a cracked tooth doesn’t always show up on an –x-ray. If this is the case then your dentist may use a magnifying glass instead.

As regards treatment, this depends on the nature of the damage. If the tooth has cracked in two then it will have to be removed. If the damage is less severe then your dentist has several options which include:

  • Dental veneers: slim, porcelain or composite shells which are fitted over the front of a tooth.
  • Composite bonding: your dentist can apply a bonding agent, made from a composite resin to the affected tooth. This is used to fill in any cracks in a tooth.
  • Cosmetic contouring: the rough edges of the tooth can be smoothed down to blend in any cracks.
  • Dental crowns: this is a type of ‘cap’ which looks like a natural tooth and fits over the top of a cracked tooth. However, if the root is affected then root canal treatment will be required first of all before a crown.

Once a tooth has a crack or several cracks then it will never completely heal. Dental treatment is very effective and can deal with the problem but there is always the risk of it happening again. And, to a far worse degree. If this happens then the tooth may have to be removed.

It is difficult to prevent cracks but you can reduce the risks. These include avoid chewing very hard food, wearing a protective mouth guard if you grind your teeth and following a good oral hygiene plan.

Visit the cosmetic dentistry guide to cracked teeth for further information.

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