Cracked tooth syndrome is a condition where you feel a twinge or other sensation either when you bite something. Often, you might only notice it with certain types of foods—hard breads for example. These cracks (or microfractures) are often hard to detect, and it’s also hard to duplicate the sensation in the dental office.
Cracks (or microfractures) can form in your tooth either as a result of oral habits or as a side effect from needed dental treatment. Because it is not happening all the time, most people adopt a “wait and see” attitude about it, but the longer it goes, the more likely the problem will become serious.
You see, when you’re chewing on that microfracture, it’s wedging it apart more and more each time. Think of it like a paper clip. You can bend the paper clip and, if you only bend it once, you can probably get it back into shape without much damage. But if you keep bending the paperclip in the same spot, eventually, you end up with two pieces of paperclip.
The wedging effect on your tooth keeps deepening the crack. At some point the crack will either turn toward the outer part of the tooth, in which case, you will eventually break off a piece of your tooth, OR it will continue toward the center of your tooth, which is where your tooth’s nerve is. Sometimes, it does a bit of both—breaking off the tooth after the nerve has become involved.
In the best case, your tooth breaks and you need a crown—the same treatment we recommend to stabilize the tooth so that the crack is less likely to spread through your tooth.
In the worst case, you lose your tooth because we can’t fix it OR you end up spending a bundle to repair and restore it—often needing:
A root canal
Surgery to move the gum and jawbone back from the broken part of the tooth
A build up of the tooth so that the crown has a center core to attach to
A crown or cap over the tooth
So if you or your dentist suspect a tooth fracture, work toward getting the crown on it before it gets worse!
There are also some things you can try to do to prevent microfractures from starting:
- Stop chewing non-food items (fingernails, pencils, etc.)
- Stay away from extremely hot and extremely cold liquids—these cause your tooth and fillings to expand and contract.
- Stop chewing ice.
- Avoid hard foods and hard candies.
- Resist clenching your teeth when stressed
- Wear a night guard if you clench or grind your teeth at night. (You can also wear these guards at any time you feel you might clench or grind your teeth—they don’t only have to be worn at night.)
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sports or doing activities where your teeth might get knocked together or hit by another person or sports gear (which is pretty much any sport if you think about it.)
If you suspect you might have cracked tooth syndrome, your dentist can help determine which treatment option is the best one for your situation. If you do not have a dentist, Dr. Robb is taking new patients. Call 440-960-1940 to inquire.
**Note: The information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgment of your healthcare providers.