Broken or Cracked Teeth

Solutions To Common Dental Problems

Broken or Cracked Teeth

If you have broken or cracked teeth you should see a dentist as soon as possible.

A crack or break in your tooth can cause significant pain and discomfort. You may not be able to chew your food, will avoid certain foods, or eat on the opposite side where the damage tooth resides. While pain medication can help manage the discomfort, the break or crack still needs to be checked out by a dentist.

Broken or cracked teeth can lead to the nerve of the tooth being damaged. This may mean the need for further treatment to save the tooth.

This should be done as soon as possible to prevent:

  • bacteria entering the nerve of the tooth
  • the tooth breaking further
  • the tooth cutting your cheek or tongue

How the tooth is treated and diagnosed depends on the extensiveness of the crack, type of crack and which tooth or teeth are affected. Some cracks are minor and result in little to no pain, These may require no treatment of simply ongoing monitoring. In other instances the crack may be so extensive that you have a broken tooth and the tooth may not be able to be saved.

Whether you are experiencing severe pain, tenderness or pain when eating or chewing or sensitivity to temperature changes, it is important that you have your tooth examined by the dentist.

Types of Tooth Breaks and Tooth Cracks 

Your tooth can crack from biting into a hard object, prolonged pressure exerted due to grinding your teeth (bruxism), suffering an injury or trauma to the mouth or from the wear and tear of old age.

The most common types of cracks include:

    • fractured cusp - the tooth's chewing surface is impacts and breaks off. These cracks usually extend to or beyond the gum line and are prevalent in teeth that have large fillings. These teeth may become sensitive to hot and cold. Treatment options include a new filling, a crown or root canal treatment where the pulp has been exposed.
    • vertical root fractures - as the name indicates, the fracture is vertical and it extends from the tooth's root up to the chewing surface. These cracks are rarely accompanied by pain, and for that reason can remain unknown for extended periods. These fractures usually occur to teeth that have had root canal treatment. The most common result is the tooth being extracted.
    • craze line - these are painless tiny cracks that appear in the tooth enamel or surface of the tooth. These cracks do not require treatment. They are typically vertical and barely visible. the dentist will examine these lines to ensure that they do not extend beyond the enamel
    • cracks through the crown of the tooth through to the gum line - typically, the tooth is not cracked outright and can be saved. The crack extends from the tooth's surface (chewing surface) to the gum and commonly impacts the tooth's pulp. In order to protect the sensitive internal areas of the tooth, root canal treatment may be appropriate. If the damage is too severe to save the tooth, an extraction may be necessary.
    • split tooth - extends the length of the tooth (root to the surface). This actually splits the tooth in half. As a result an extraction is usually needed. In some instances where the split occurs in molar teeth, the tooth may be saved. The damaged half is extracted leaving the other side to have root canal treatment. The tooth is then capped with a crown to protect the remaining tooth.

FAQs About Broken Or Cracked Teeth

Treatment for Broken or Cracked Teeth

The treatment options for a broken or cracked tooth depends on the severity of the damage arising from the break. Where the tooth enamel has chipped off or broken away from the tooth, the treatment may be a simple filling. This is often a quick single trip to the dentist. The location of the tooth will also determine the materials used. If the tooth is visible – such as front teeth – composite resin may be more appropriate. This material is tooth coloured and when bonded to your tooth looks natural and the break or crack will not be visible to the naked eye.

If you have experienced a more complex and extensive break or cracked tooth the treatment may be more complicated and expensive. It could also stretch over several appointments, depending on the damaged caused to the tooth and mouth.

The options for these treatments include:

  • filling or bonding – an adhesive material is applied to the tooth and them shaped so it looks like your natural tooth both in shape, size and colour
  • dental crown or cap – where the crack or break is extensive or the crack has led to decay and part of the tooth has needed to be removed, a cap or crown may be the solution to save and protect your tooth.
  • dental veneer – this is an option where there is damage to a front tooth. A veneer will slip on top of the natural tooth. It is bonded to the surface masking the crack.
  • root canal treatment – where the crack or break is large and has exposed the pulp resulting in infection or disease of the pulp. The roots of the tooth are cleaned, filled and sealed to ensure no further bacteria enters and damages the tooth. The tooth is then capped with a crown to protect the tooth.

If the tooth is broken but the root is not damaged, root canal treatment may also be an option. A canal can be used to insert a post that can be built up so a crown can be affixed to it.

To find out more about treating your broken or cracked teeth, call our friendly staff at Woodville & Seaton Dental Clinic on (08) 8268 5422 or request an appointment online.

49 Woodville Road

Woodville, SA 5011

(08) 8268 5422

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