It may surprise you to know that the enamel on your teeth is the hardest substance in the human body, even stronger than your bones. Over time, however, the enamel that protects the inner layers of our teeth can wear thin and crack under pressure.
Symptoms of a cracked tooth include pain when you’re biting or chewing or sensitivity to hot or cold foods. But sometimes there are no symptoms at all for a cracked tooth. That’s why regular dental checkups are important to find and correct dental issues before they become major oral health problems.
What does a cracked tooth feel like?
The short answer is that a cracked tooth causes pain and sensitivity, and to understand these symptoms, it’s essential to know something about the structure of our teeth. Under the hard outer layer of enamel there lies a second hard layer of what is called dentin. Lying within the dentin is the pulp that contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth.
When a tooth is cracked, chewing can irritate the pulp, and that irritation can grow over time into injury to the pulp. The injury, in turn, can potentially lead to a painful infection of the pulp and roots of the tooth.
That’s why it is important to get a diagnosis and treatment for a cracked tooth as soon as possible. Otherwise this can become a painful and serious problem.
Types of cracked teeth
There are several types of cracked teeth, and treatment depends on the type, location, and extent of the crack.
These are tiny cracks affecting only the outer enamel, or surface of the tooth. These are quite common in adult teeth, they’re shallow and cause no pain and generally are of no concern other than appearance.
This is a crack on the crown of your tooth. It’s possible that with a fractured cusp you will suffer little discomfort, but it’s important to get it treated by your dentist before it becomes worse.
A tooth is considered cracked when the damage extends to the pulp, and in severe cases it may even extend to the root.
A tooth split into two halves is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth. This kind of tooth cannot be saved in its entirety, but it’s possible that an endodontist may be able to save a portion of it.
Vertical root fracture
In some cases, a crack can begin below the gum line, moving upward along the root of the tooth. Often these cracks do not have any symptoms until an infection develops. The infection may lead to endodontic surgery if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root.
Treatment options for a cracked tooth
The following are possible ways to treat a cracked tooth.
This is the treatment option for smaller cracks involving only the cusp of the tooth. One of our doctors at Excellence in Dentistry will carefully reshape the outer structure of your tooth, after which an impression will be made that will be used in creating a custom-designed crown for your tooth. Our crowns are lifelike, as well as strong and durable, and they’ll restore the normal functioning of your tooth.
A root can is usually the only therapy that can save a tooth when a crack affects the soft inner pulp. During this procedure one of our doctors at Excellence in Dentistry will clean out the infected or damaged pulp and restore the tooth with a dental crown.
When does a cracked tooth need to be pulled?
Extraction of a cracked tooth is the last resort, but it may be the only option is cases where the tooth is split or you have a fractured root or a crack extending into the dental pulp. Our doctors at Excellence in Dentistry will always be mindful of your concerns and will use a highly effective local anesthetic during the procedure.
They will also recommend replacement options for you to consider. As a comprehensive dental practice, we offer our patients a wide range of dental restorations to help you maintain a beautiful smile as well as your oral health.
Dental care in Gurnee, Ill at Excellence in Dentistry
If you’re suffering from a cracked tooth, leaving that situation untreated may lead to severe pain and extensive damage to the tooth. We urge you not to take that risk. Contact us to schedule an appointment for timely and personalized care from our experienced doctors at Excellence in Dentistry.