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Why You Shouldn't Ignore a Cracked Tooth

They might be small, but your teeth are actually incredibly strong. In fact, the enamel that makes up the white outer part of your teeth is among the sturdiest substances in your body. Despite their fortitude, however, your teeth are still susceptible to damage. 

From the pressure of grinding your teeth and chewing on hard foods to trauma and age-related changes, your tooth can crack in a variety of ways. Though it might seem easier to adjust the way you chew or mask discomfort with medication, cracked teeth don’t heal on their own, and ignoring the problem can spell disaster for your oral health. 

Dr. Steven Kauftheil and our team of expert dentists at ToothDocs specialize in dental emergencies, even those like cracks that may seem minor. Here, we’re sharing all the reasons why you shouldn’t ignore a cracked tooth.

Reasons not to ignore cracked teeth

There are some parts of your body, such as your bones, that have the ability to heal themselves over time. Because your teeth don’t heal themselves the way bones do, a cracked tooth needs specialized dental treatments, or the damage will only get worse. 

Among our chief concerns when it comes to cracked teeth is the potential damage to the inside of your tooth. Cracks leave the pulp, which is the soft inner layer of your teeth that contains the nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels, exposed to bacteria buildup. Left alone, the accumulation of bacteria eventually leads to abscesses, decay, infection, and a host of other issues in your teeth and gums. 

In addition to the possibility of rampant decay and infection, cracked teeth are often extremely painful, and your symptoms can worsen the longer you hold off getting treatment.

Types of cracked teeth

Not all cracks are created equal, and there are few different types of tooth cracks, each with its own treatment requirement. Here’s a closer look at three of the most harmful types of cracks. 

Vertical cracks

A vertical crack in your tooth poses a potential problem. If it doesn’t extend into your gum line, your tooth is likely savable. But if the crack reaches past your gum line, we may need to extract the tooth. The quicker you see us for treatment, the better chance we have of saving your tooth. 

Split tooth

If your tooth has a crack from the surface all the way down below the gum line and can be separated into two segments, you have what we call a split tooth. We may only be able to save a portion of a split tooth if such an extensive crack is present. 

Vertical root fracture

Tooth cracks can also occur from the bottom up as with vertical root fractures. These happen when a crack forms below the gum line and travels upward. These may not cause any symptoms but can lead to infection if left untreated. 

What to do when you crack your tooth

Pain is often the telltale sign of a cracked tooth, but sometimes, you may not realize that you’ve cracked your tooth, and it may only show up when we scan your teeth with an X-ray. 

Other times, like after an injury, you may notice immediately that your tooth is damaged. Until you can get to our office, take the following actions:

Taking these steps can significantly improve your chances of saving a damaged tooth.

How we fixed cracked teeth

Regardless of what’s caused the crack in your tooth, we can fix it with our comprehensive emergency dentistry treatments. We take detailed images of your tooth to assess the damage and guide your treatment plan. Depending on your needs, we may recommend the following:

We also equip you with some basic strategies to avoid a cracked tooth in the future. For example, we encourage all our patients to wear mouthguards during high-impact activity, practice good oral hygiene, avoid biting on hard foods, and maintain regular check-up appointments. 

If you’d like more information about our emergency dentistry service, call our friendly staff, or request an appointment online. We’re conveniently located in three New York locations

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