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Woman with tooth pain

All things considered, your teeth can handle a lot. In fact, tooth enamel is the hardest substance found in your body, comprised of 96% mineral content. And according to the Mohs scale, which measures mineral durability by its resistance to scratching, tooth enamel (at a score of 5) is roughly as durable as turquoise, and considerably more durable than gold or silver. However, your teeth aren’t invincible. Cracked or split teeth can be very painful and inconvenient, requiring the help of a dental professional.

What Are the Signs of Cracked or Split Teeth?

Sharp, shooting pain in your mouth is a telltale indicator that you’ve split a tooth. If biting down on food results in instant pain that subsides soon after, this is a big sign of a crack. Also, sensitivity to very hot or very cold foods is a giveaway, since the interior of the tooth is not meant to be exposed to these temperatures.

What Can I Do About a Split Tooth?

The important thing when dealing with a cracked or split tooth is to get it treated as soon as possible. If left untreated, a crack in your tooth’s enamel can get much worse. The interior nerves and tissue of a tooth, collectively known as the pulp, can suffer irreversible damage and constant pain if neglected long enough. Even worse, a crack can allow bacteria inside the tooth, resulting in an infection known as a dental abscess. In the event of a dental abscess, a collection of pus forms inside a tooth, the gums, or the jaw bone.

How Do Dentists Fix Cracked and Split Teeth?

Getting a clear image of a cracked or split tooth is the first priority for your dentist, just so they can see what they’re dealing with. Full-mouth panoramic x-rays or local periapical x-rays will be taken for the purpose of examination. Then, depending on the type, severity, and location of the damage, treatment can begin. The kind of treatment a tooth receives depends on exactly how the tooth has been damaged.

  • Fractured Cusp: When a portion of a tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, this is referred to as a fractured cusp. This is the lowest degree of severity among split teeth, as the inner layers are not affected and there is not as much pain involved. Your dentist may place a filling or a new crown to fix the issue.
  • Cracked Tooth: This is a vertical crack that runs vertically from the chewing surface to the interior of the tooth. A cracked tooth can be saved with a root canal and a crown, but only if the crack does not run below the gum line. If the crack breaches the gum line, however, it will most likely need to be extracted.
  • Split Tooth: In dental terms, a split tooth is the result of a crack fully splitting a tooth into distinct segments. This can often happen if a cracked tooth is left untreated, worsening over time. Depending on how bad the split is, parts of the tooth may be salvaged via a root canal.

Treating a cracked tooth is the key to keeping it from getting worse. Being proactive and talking to a dentist right as you notice something is wrong will increase the likelihood of the tooth being restored to functioning capacity, i.e. normal chewing. However, teeth can’t completely heal like cuts and scrapes on your skin. Bear that in mind as you take care of your teeth – don’t attempt to chew hard food with sensitive teeth, don’t use your mouth to open bottles or bags, and talk to your dentist if you suspect you’re grinding your teeth at night.

At Lakeway Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Robert D’Alfonso and his team are experts in dealing with cracked and split teeth. We even offer emergency dental care to quickly respond to injuries that impact your dental health. Whether your teeth are in need of urgent reconstruction or just a routine cleaning, give us a call today and we’ll get you started.