The teeth are covered by the enamel, a material that is said to be the strongest and most mineralised substance in the human body. However, no matter how tough enamel is, its strength still has a limit and it can be broken, chipped or cracked through various means.
A crack in the tooth can present in different ways. For instance, it can occur within the tooth or outside of it. Internal cracks tend to manifest with very few symptoms; most of the time, they can only be found through radiographic examination. External cracks, on the other hand, are more evident and tend to cause more pain. This is because a chip or break in the enamel exposes the porous dentin underneath, permitting various substances to come into contact with highly sensitive nerve fibres housed within the tooth’s pulp. Besides occurring both on the interior and exterior of teeth, cracks can also involve just a small section of the tooth or they can penetrate the whole tooth and remove a large portion of it.
What caused my tooth to crack?
There are various causes of cracked teeth, but a common factor among these is trauma. Falling, getting hit by a hard object, or chewing hard materials like candy and ice are some of the most common causes of cracked and broken teeth. Other causes of cracked teeth include bruxism (more commonly known as teeth grinding) and improper placement of fillings. However, it’s important to note that the overall health of the teeth can also contribute to the development of cracks and chips; teeth that are strong and well-maintained are less likely to break than those with compromised strength secondary to decay.
What options do I have to get it repaired?
Treatments for a cracked tooth vary depending on the extent and type of crack. Internal cracks are often left untreated (but do note that these may eventually develop into external cracks and thus will need treatment. Common treatment options for broken teeth include dental fillings or bonding, caps and crowns, veneers and root canal therapy. Fillings and bonding are best for cracks that involve only small portions of the tooth. Fillings are ideal for breaks in teeth that are not visible to others, such as molars. If the break is located on a front tooth, a dentist can then bond the broken piece using a tooth-coloured composite resin that is shaped and later on set with blue light.
Caps, crowns and veneers, on the other hand, are ideal for larger breaks or cracks. These treatments require grinding of the teeth surface to accommodate a new cover which is shaped like a tooth. Caps and crowns can be used for any tooth, while veneers are strictly for front teeth.
Root canal therapy is necessary when the break is large enough to expose the pulp underneath, making it prone to pain and infection. This procedure involves removal of the pulp tissues, cleaning up the pulp area, and sealing it by covering with a crown.