Cracked teeth are a relatively common problem among patients. They can present in many different ways, however you may not even notice them or your dentist may only discover them when they are replacing older fillings. It is uncommon, though possible for cracks to develop in teeth which haven’t been filled before.
Cracks more commonly occur in teeth which have large fillings in them, especially if they are silver fillings (amalgam). These materials tend to be a lot harder than your own tooth so cracks form more readily.
Those who have lost many teeth previously are more prone to getting cracks as heavy forces from chewing and grinding are placed on fewer teeth, straining them. The most classic symptom that presents when you have a cracked tooth is a short sharp localised pain on releasing biting pressure.
Cracked teeth are also a sign that you may have a heavy bite and that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth, which is related to stress. If left untreated, cracked teeth may cause significant problems as they can weaken the tooth, resulting in part of the tooth eventually fracturing off. If the crack extends to the nerve of the tooth it may cause you a nasty toothache as well. In the worse case scenario, if the crack extends all the way down the middle of the tooth (known as a vertical root fracture) the tooth may need to be removed.
The treatment will depend on the severity of the damage. If there is only a small piece of enamel that has broken off, generally a repair can be done in one visit. A more badly damaged or broken tooth may require a lengthier visit. If you have chipped off a small piece of the tooth enamel, the damage may be repaired with a filling. However, if the damage is to one of the front teeth that are visible when you smile, a procedure called bonding is likely to be undertaken. Bonding uses a tooth-coloured composite resin and it is generally a simple procedure that doesn’t require numbing of the tooth for smaller fragments.
Click on the images below if you would like see real life examples of cracked teeth we have seen in our dental practice.