My Tooth Is Cracked. Now What?

No matter how careful we try to be with our oral care, it’s possible to get a cracked tooth playing sports, biting down on something hard like nuts or an ice cube, or through a blow to the mouth. It’s vital to make an appointment with your dentist as soon as you have a cracked tooth, as a chipped or broken tooth can cause damage to the inside of your mouth and expose your teeth to infection.

How Do I Know If My Tooth Is Cracked?

If the crack in your tooth results in a chip, or part of the tooth breaking off, you may be fairly certain of what has happened. If not, however, diagnosing and treating the crack can be more difficult. You may feel a sharp pain when you bite down, or find yourself only chewing food on one side of your mouth. You may notice extreme sensitivity to hot, cold, sweet or sour foods – but only near the site of the cracked tooth. Some cracks are not visible to the naked eye or are difficult to see even on an X-ray, so let your dentist know what your specific symptoms are.

Steps To Take If You Have a Cracked Tooth

Until you can get to the dentist, follow these self-care guidelines:

  1. Use over-the-counter pain relievers to deal with discomfort. Follow dosing instructions with care.
  2. Rinse your mouth gently with a mixture of half a tablespoon of salt in eight ounces of water..
  3. If the cracked tooth left a sharp/jagged edge, cover it with wax paraffin or sugarless chewing gum to avoid damage to your tongue or inside of your cheek.

Treating A Cracked Tooth

Treatment for a cracked tooth depends how damaged the tooth is. A small bit of chipped-away tooth may be replaced with filling or bonding materials. A tooth with more severe structural problems may require a crown. If the crack has led to injury or infection in the pulp of the tooth, a root canal plus a crown may be necessary. Some cracked teeth are too badly damaged to be repaired; in that case they will need to be extracted and replaced.

“A cracked tooth definitely gets worse with time – don’t delay contacting your dentist and getting it treated,” says Dr. Carol Ford.

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