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Types of Tooth Cracks and Their Treatment

A crack in the tooth can be an unwelcome and sometimes painful experience. Our tooth may crack due to a physical injury, or chewing down hard food substances; It may even fracture due to our deleterious habits such as night clenching and grinding or just simply from ageing or a previous Root canal treatment. Worried about a similar crack in your tooth? We have got you covered below on all the necessary information.

Types of Tooth Cracks

Craze Lines:

These tiny hairlines, or more specifically, micro-fractures that can be commonly seen in adult front teeth. These cracks are present only in the first layer of teeth and usually do not produce any pain or an aesthetic problem. Prognosis is very good, provided parafunctional habits (bruxism, clenching) and excessive forces while chewing are avoided.

Fractured Cusp:

When a portion of our tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, oftentimes around a dental filling, it is called a fractured cusp. These cracked segments may completely separate at the time of the trauma but the damage does not extend up to the innermost soft tissue (pulp) and hence does not cause much pain. However, you may experience some sensitivity or pain while chewing down your food, depending upon the depth of the crack. Overall, this tooth has a good prognosis.

Cracked Tooth:

Such a tooth will have a crack-line extending vertically from the chewing surface towards the root of the tooth. Prompt diagnosis is essential to save the tooth before the crack gradually spreads and opens up under biting forces.

However, the crack may sometimes extend beyond the gum-line, involving the tooth root. In such scenarios, the tooth will have to be extracted due to a questionable prognosis. Having said that one need not very about functional or aesthetic loss as the gap can be covered up with a safe, painless and precise dental Implant placement procedure that will last you a lifetime.

Split Tooth:

This is a scenario where the crack has propagated beyond the gum-line to the extent that two distinct split fragments of the tooth can be noticed. If the crack-line is extensive it is unlikely that the entire tooth can be saved. However, depending upon the position and involvement of the crack some portion of the tooth might be recoverable after an endodontic treatment by your dental professional.

Vertical Root Fracture:

Such a fracture begins in the lower portion of the tooth, below the gum-line and travels upwards. These fractures are mostly symptomless, hence may go unnoticed until discovered during a routine check-up. There are chances that the fracture may ultimately lead to infection of the surrounding gum or bone, thereby causing great discomfort.

Diagnosing a Cracked Tooth:

Your dental specialist may use a variety of tests to confirm the crack in your tooth:

• Your dental history and thorough clinical examination of the oral cavity
• run a pointed tool called dental explorer on the tooth surface to ‘catch’ any crack
• Use a dental dye to make the crack more visible
• Perform a bite test that involves biting down on an apparatus with the tooth in question
• Fibre optic Transilluminstion: transmitting a narrow and focused beam of light through the tooth to detect any cracks or fractures

Treatment of Tooth Cracks:

Depending upon the type and extent of tooth crack the treatment may vary such as:

No Treatment: If the tooth in question has hair-thin craze lines and they do not present any esthetic concern, your dentist will suggest no remedy other than avoiding biting down on hard foodstuffs and taking good care of your teeth

Bonding: When the tooth is only slightly chipped such that its physical appearance is the only concern then your cosmetic dentist will repair and shape it with a tooth-coloured material that exactly simulates your adjacent natural tooth in colour, shape and function.

Dental Crown: Sometimes a tooth may have a fractured cusp or a broken segment. In this scenario a Dental crown is recommended that encases the broken tooth like a cap and restores its functionality and appearance.

Endodontic Treatment: In cases when the fracture line extends below the gum-line and the tooth elicits symptoms of pain and sensitivity a Root Canal Treatment is a good option to save the tooth.

The Bottom Line

Ending up with a cracked tooth may not be as catastrophic as it appears. Several advanced procedures are available to save that chomping apparatus and that beautiful smile.

However, it should be noted that while cracked bone might heal completely, a cracked tooth will never have a hundred per cent resolution. Thereby, good oral hygiene, avoiding hard foodstuffs, or wearing a nightguard to prevent bruxism, may go a long way in saving the tooth and protecting that smile, after a dental treatment of the crack.