A Cracked Tooth Can Be Subtle: 5 Signs To Watch For

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How To Recognize a Cracked Tooth

You might not realize how difficult it can be to recognize a cracked tooth. While major damage is immediately apparent, minor cracks and chips can go unseen for some time. In many cases, you might not notice until the crack or chip worsens and becomes a more serious issue.

Dealing with a cracked or chipped tooth is easier when you identify it early on. Leaving it untreated only allows the damage to spread every time you bite down on the affected tooth.

Possible Kinds of Tooth Pain From a Cracked Tooth

Watch out for these signs to identify a broken tooth before it becomes a problem that requires more serious treatment.

1. Pain When Biting

You’ll often only experience tooth pain when biting down fairly hard. Even with a minor crack or chip, your teeth can stand up to a lot of force. If you notice pain in a specific area only when biting or when closing your teeth together, minor physical damage could be the culprit.

2. Pain When Chewing

A cracked or chipped tooth can cause consistent pain during chewing. This is particularly true if you have a crack in one of your molars, which bear the brunt of the chewing force. A crack or chip right at the edge or corner of a tooth is likely to cause sensitivity during chewing as well.

3. Sensitivity to Heat and Cold

A healthy tooth contains nerve tissue that responds to heat and cold, which is why you can feel noticeably hot or cold foods and drinks. A crack or chip lets heat directly enter and exit the interior of the tooth, increasing how much you feel heat and cold. You may notice this with hot and cold food and drink or even cold air during the winter.

4. Sporadic Pain

One of the key features of the pain associated with a chipped or cracked tooth is that it doesn’t persist. You’ll likely only feel pain when biting or chewing. If you have constant pain, then you are likely experiencing a toothache or other dental issue, such as an abscessed tooth.

5. Swollen Gums

Tooth pain isn’t the only thing to watch out for. Chips and cracks can eventually lead to infection as they let bacteria enter the interior of a tooth if they are deep enough. This can lead to infection of the gums as well, causing inflammation and swelling in the area.

What can cause a broken tooth?

Many chips and cracks arise from dental trauma, where a fall or accident results in teeth colliding with opposing teeth or another object with considerable force.

However, you can also experience broken teeth from much more mundane occurrences. Simply biting something hard can be enough to damage teeth. This is most common when using your teeth to open packaging or biting other non-food objects.

Grinding your teeth can also damage teeth over time as they wear down. Various bite issues and misalignment can cause individual teeth to bear more pressure than others, leading to chips and cracks.

What issues do broken teeth cause?

While you can sometimes tolerate broken teeth for a while, seeking out treatment is important. A cracked or chipped tooth can lead to further issues as time goes on, requiring additional treatment.

Even minor chips and cracks can spread. Eventually, they will expose the inner layers of your tooth. When this happens, bacteria enters the tooth and causes an infection. The infection can lead to an abscessed tooth, where a pocket of pus forms around the tooth root.

At that point, your only option to save the tooth is a root canal treatment and dental crown. The infection can continue to spread if untreated, affecting other teeth and gum tissue. In serious cases, you may need an extraction.

Watching for signs of damage and seeking immediate treatment is the best way to prevent this outcome. You should also keep up with preventive cleaning appointments every six months so your dentist can note any minor damage during evaluation.

Find the treatment you need for cracked or chipped teeth.

At Luminous Smiles, Dr. Desai provides a variety of treatment options to restore cracked or chipped teeth. Minor cracks and chips can be quickly and easily dealt with using composite bonding. Dental veneers can fix broken and misshapen teeth, and dental crowns are great options for lasting protection in cases of serious damage.

Dr. Desai will carefully evaluate your oral health and the aesthetics of your smile. Schedule an evaluation today to find the treatment plan that best serves all your needs.