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Cracked Tooth

A cracked tooth is a complete or partial fracture of the tooth.

What causes a cracked tooth?

Occasionally a tooth breaks with enough force—such as when chewing something hard or being hit in the face.  Usually a small fracture begins at the edge of the tooth, then steadily deepens as you chew or clench.

Who is at risk for a cracked tooth?

Some people are more vulnerable to having a cracked tooth.  Here are a few factors that are likely to lead to a cracked tooth:

  • Deep fillings that leave thin amounts of tooth structure
  • Sports such as hockey, football, and boxing that have a high risk of facial trauma
  • People who grind their teeth or have strong chewing muscles
  • People who chew on ice or open objects with their teeth

What can I do to reduce my chances of cracking a tooth?

Here are some recommendations to minimize a cracked tooth:

  • Have crowns placed to cover weak cusps of teeth
  • Have your bite readjusted by your dentist
  • Have old silver fillings replaced
  • Do not chew on ice or use your teeth to open objects like bags, lids, or cans.
  • Wear a nightguard that prevents teeth grinding
  • Wear a mouthguard when playing sports

What happens if I choose not to do anything about my cracked tooth?

It is likely that the crack will continue to worsen and eventually the tooth may become painfull or parts may break off.  In some instances, the tooth may crack completely in half, which is often excruciatingly painful.  At this point, the tooth will need to be extracted.  Other times, the crack deepens into the tooth nerve, which may require a root canal to save the tooth.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.