Because we live longer and more stressful lives today, we are exposing our teeth to many more years of potentially damaging habits such as clenching, grinding, and chewing on hard objects.
These habits make our teeth more susceptible to cracks. Your endodontist may treat a cracked tooth to prevent further damage to the tooth structure and tissue.
Cracked teeth do not always show any visible signs of damage, but may present a variety of symptoms, including erratic pain when you chew with them, and pain or sensitivity to heat and cold. In many cases, the pain may come and go, making it difficult for your doctor to locate the source.
Why Cracked Teeth Hurt
When the outer hard tissues of the tooth are cracked, chewing can cause movement of the pieces, and the pulp becomes irritated. When biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in a momentary, sharp pain. Irritation of the dental pulp can be repeated many times by chewing.
Eventually, the pulp will become damaged to the point where it can no longer heal itself. The tooth will not only hurt during chewing but may also become sensitive to extreme temperatures. In time, a cracked tooth may begin to hurt all by itself. Extensive cracks will lead to infection of the pulp tissue, even spreading to the bone and gum tissue that surround the tooth.
Preventing Cracked Teeth
While cracked teeth are not completely preventable, you can take some steps to make your teeth less susceptible to cracks.
- Don't chew on hard objects such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or pens.
- Don't clench or grind your teeth.
- Wear a mouthguard or protective mask when playing contact sports.
Early diagnosis is important. Even with high magnification and special lighting, it can be challenging to determine the extent of a crack. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen, and eventually result in the loss of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to saving these teeth.