What is a Cracked Tooth?
A tooth can become cracked in several different ways as the crack can run vertically from the tip of the crown, right down to the gum line and below into the tooth roots. If a tooth which is damaged in this way is not treated, there is a possibility the tooth will split into two sections. A tooth can develop craze lines across its surface and these are perfectly harmless and do not cause pain. Often a tooth cusp will become cracked. The cusps are located on the inner and outer edges of back teeth and are the raised pointed areas. If a cusp breaks then this can cause pain during biting and chewing.
Why Do Teeth Crack?
If your child grinds or clenches their teeth, this can place them under a lot of pressure, increasing the risk of cracks. If they have a large filling in a tooth, then this can weaken the overall structure, again increasing the risk that the tooth will crack or even eventually fracture. Chewing or biting into very hard foods can cause damage, as can chewing the ends of pens and pencils. Sometimes teeth will crack as a result of a sports injury. As you can see, there are lots of different cracked teeth causes.
Is it Necessary to Repair Cracked Teeth?
We will want to mend any teeth that are cracked as this will protect the rest of the tooth against infection and tooth decay. If the tooth were to be left untreated, then bacteria in the mouth would be able to get inside the tooth, causing decayed tooth, discomfort and eventually pain. There is the possibility that the tooth will even need extracting. It is also important to restore cracked baby teeth as these need to remain in position until the adult teeth are ready to erupt. Early tooth loss can lead to problems with overcrowding and alignment of adult teeth. A cracked tooth cannot heal on its own.
Cracked Teeth Treatment
If the crack is relatively minor then it can often be mended with composite resin (see: Posterior Composite Fillings & Anterior Composite Fillings). This is tooth colored resin that is bonded onto the tooth and this treatment is very good for repairing a cracked front tooth. If the damage is more extensive and the tooth cannot be filled or bonded, then it might need to be covered up completely with a crown. This protects the tooth from infection and makes sure it is strong enough to be used normally without fear of fracturing completely.