Teeth are not meant to be used as tools. Many people learn that the hard way by breaking a tooth while attempting to use their teeth for something it wasn’t made to handle. For example, trying to crack a nut with your pearly whites can lead straight to a cracked tooth. I’ll admit my mom used to warn me when she’d catch me trying to open a package with my teeth, “You’ll crack your teeth and you’ll be sorry!” Another bad habit I had was chewing on ice and if my mom ever caught me, she would go crazy! But I’m glad she did because I have broken those bad habits of my youth, and luckily I haven’t broken a tooth to date. A cracked tooth is a common problem, but it isn’t one that you should take lightly.
Dentist regularly hear scenarios just like these:
“I was eating a piece of popcorn when…crack! My tooth broke.”
“I was chewing on some ice and I heard a crunch and my tooth cracked!”
“I couldn’t help but bite into my sucker and felt a little chip gone out of the side of my tooth.”
Unfortunately, when a tooth cracks there is often pain involved. People who’ve cracked a tooth often report feeling a sharp, sudden pain when they bite down. The Michigan Dental Association (MDA) explains that there are many reasons why a tooth can crack but it most “commonly happens when you get hit in the mouth or as a result of clenching or grinding your teeth.”
One warning sign that you may have a cracked tooth could be an unexplained sensitivity in one tooth to anything very hot, cold, or acidic. This could be a sign that your tooth may have a crack and this crack could be so small that it would not be visible to the naked eye. You should report any of these symptoms to your dentist who would then need to examine your tooth to determine the cause.
If you have an injury where your tooth is cracked or broken, you should visit your dentist right away so that treatment can be performed quickly in order to give your tooth the best chance of being repaired. Depending on how severe the crack or chip is, your dentist may be able to fix it through dental bonding or a dental crown.
Dental bonding is a simple procedure in which a dentist applies a tooth-colored bonding material that is shaped and formed to fill in the damaged areas of the tooth. The resin is then hardened before being polished and smoothed. After dental bonding, the tooth is stronger than when it was cracked.
When you have a dental crown made for your tooth, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth and send them to a dental laboratory where your crown will be made. Your tooth will be prepped and you will have a temporary crown fitted until the permanent crown is completed. When your crown is ready it will be permanently attached to your tooth. Dental crowns are usually made of porcelain. Your dentist will also take special care to make sure that your new dental crown matches the color of your other teeth.
Prevention is the key to avoiding dental emergencies. We recommend that any of our patients who take part in sports with physical contact wear a mouth guards and, just like my mom, we recommend you never chew ice, nuts, or hard candy. Visit your dentist quickly after any breaks or cracks occur and make sure to keep your regular six month checkups so that any problems can be detected early.