Cracks in the teeth range in severity, from mild and unnoticeable to severe. In some cases, the pain from a cracked tooth can be unbearable, which indicates a dental emergency.
While fracturing a tooth can result in aesthetic issues, it can also cause life-threatening infections. So, it is critical to understand how to recognize the signs of a cracked tooth so you can receive prompt treatment.
What Causes a Cracked Tooth?
Cracked teeth can be caused by various issues, from chewing hard items to trauma such as a car accident. Some of the most common causes of cracked teeth include:
- Hard foods. Biting on hard foods, such as hard candy or popcorn kernels, or accidentally biting down on silverware can crack a tooth.
- Tooth grinding. Patients who grind their teeth can exert forces of up to 250 lbs., significantly more than the 20-40 lbs. of pressure exerted in normal chewing. This can easily lead to cracked or weakened teeth.
- Uneven chewing habits. Occasionally, favoring one side of the mouth over the other while chewing can lead to undue stress on the teeth of the favored side. This can lead to cracks in the overused teeth.
- Degraded tooth structure. Large dental fillings or teeth with multiple restorations weaken over time, leaving them prone to cracking. Old fillings made of amalgam can expand and result in cracks in the tooth if not properly maintained.
Signs and Symptoms of Cracked Teeth.
Several signs indicate you have a cracked tooth that requires treatment, including:
- Pain Pain is the primary symptom of a cracked tooth, especially a severe crack that extends to the pulp or gum line. A crack can trigger the release of cytokines that stimulate the body’s inflammatory response, causing swelling, which can place pressure on dental nerves. Pain may be intermittent, occurring only when biting or chewing due to increased pressure from your bite force. It may also be a constant throbbing that radiates through the jaw.
- Sensitivity. A crack can increase your tooth sensitivity. If the crack exposes the dentin or pulp, this leaves your nerve endings vulnerable to heat, cold, sugary, and acidic substances that can trigger irritation. While waiting for an emergency dental appointment, you may need to avoid eating or drinking. Or stick to a liquid diet of room-temperature smoothies or blended soups.
- Discoloration. Tooth discoloration indicates trauma to the inner layer of the tooth or multiple minor cracks called craze lines. Craze lines are shallow vertical cracks in the tooth enamel that easily absorb food pigments due to the enamel’s porous structure. This can cause your teeth to appear brown, yellow, or gray. While craze lines aren’t a dental emergency, leaving them untreated can leave your tooth vulnerable to decay and larger cracks.
- Swelling of the Gums. The gums near the cracked tooth may swell. This symptom can indicate that the pulp has been harmed by the crack and has become infected, or the crack extends below the gum line.
- Infection. An infection can occur if the pulp of the tooth is damaged. These infections can easily spread and become much more serious, so getting immediate treatment is crucial if you suffer from a fever, swollen lymph nodes, or bad breath.
Cracked Tooth Treatment at Aurora Dental Group
Aurora Dental Group provides comfortable, effective treatment for cracked teeth, such as fillings, dental crowns, and root canal therapy. Schedule a consultation today by calling (630) 892-2193 if you suspect you have a cracked tooth.