If you have been experiencing some tooth pain, have you wondered if you could have a cracked tooth? You may notice a sharp pain when you bite down, but the pain goes away quickly. You might feel like you can only chew on one side of your mouth, or you might avoid some foods that bother your teeth. If you are experiencing these symptoms, a cracked tooth might be to blame.
Causes of Cracked Teeth
Your tooth can become cracked for a variety of reasons. These are some of the most common causes of cracked teeth:
- Eating hard foods, like ice, nuts, and hard candy;
- Accidents and injuries, like blows to the mouth;
- Grinding or clenching the teeth;
- Chewing with uneven pressure on the teeth;
- Stress on the teeth;
- Major fillings or restorations that have resulted in loss of portions of the tooth structure;
- Tooth enamel that is exposed to extreme temperatures, such as very hot or very cold food; and
- Root canal treatment of brittle teeth.
Identifying a Cracked Tooth
It can actually be quite difficult to ascertain whether a tooth is cracked or even which tooth is creating the pain that you are experiencing. A crack in the tooth is often nothing more than a hairline fracture that occurs vertically in the tooth. You may not be able to see it, and it may not even be recognizable on an x-ray.
In order to help your dentist locate the source of the problem, pay attention to where you experience pain when you are chewing. Also, take note of where you feel sensitivity to extreme temperatures or sour foods.
Why Do Cracked Teeth Hurt?
You may be wondering why – since a crack in the tooth is such a tiny, hairline fracture – it causes so much pain. Dentists believe that the pain is created when you bite down on the cracked tooth; the pressure against it causes the crack to open up. When you release your bite, the pressure is also released. The pain is usually relieved quite quickly. Despite the fact that the crack is so tiny, biting down and opening the crack exposes the pulp in the tooth. The pulp is home to the nerves and blood vessels in the teeth. When the crack in the tooth opens up, the pulp can become irritated. When the pulp gets irritated, it can increase the tooth’s sensitivity to extreme temperatures. In some cases, the pulp can get diseased or damaged when the tooth is cracked. If that happens, a root canal may be necessary.
Treatment for Cracked Teeth
The way that a cracked tooth is treated depends upon two factors – the size of the crack, and the location of the crack. If the crack is severe, the tooth may need to be removed. Small cracks in the teeth are actually quite common, and they may not cause any serious symptoms. If you are experiencing pain, you should avoid chewing on that side of your mouth. Call your dentist to make an appointment to diagnose the source of your pain. Be sure to see your dentist regularly, even if you are not experiencing any dental problems. Routine visits to the dentist allow your dentist to catch problems early and treat them easily before they become bigger, more painful problems.
If you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth, call the office of Dr. TJ Bolt. Dr. Bolt provides a comprehensive array of dental services in a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Call the office to make an appointment today.