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Does a Cracked Tooth Need to Be Pulled?

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A man standing outside in a park wearing a blue shirt smiling with a chipped tooth

Your smile is an asset, and it’s only natural to feel concerned if you have a cracked tooth and think extraction is the only option. But this is not always the case. 

Not all cracked teeth need to be pulled. With the appropriate dental treatment, your dentist can save a cracked tooth. However, this can depend on the type of crack, its potential causes, and the treatment options available. 

What Is a Cracked Tooth?

A cracked tooth, as the name suggests, is when there is a crack in a tooth. Cracks in teeth can range from small, paniless and barely visible, to large, uncomfortable and visible.. 

Causes of a Cracked Tooth

Anyone can get a cracked tooth. A cracked tooth can occur below or above the gum line. Knowing the causes of cracked teeth can help you prevent this dental issue. Several things can cause a cracked tooth, including:

  • Age (teeth cracks occur more in people over 50)
  • Excessive pressure from grinding or clenching teeth
  • Large fillings that weaken the tooth
  • Biting hard foods, such as ice, nuts, or hard candy
  • Trauma such as an accident, fall, or sports injury
  • Sudden changes in temperature in the mouth

Cracked teeth don’t always result in symptoms. However, common symptoms of a cracked tooth can include the following:

  • Pain that comes and goes
  • Toothache when chewing or biting
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweet foods
  • Swelling around the affected tooth

Types of Cracked Teeth

Cracked teeth can come in various forms, each requiring a different approach to treatment. Here are the different types of cracks commonly seen in dental practice:

  • Craze lines: These are tiny cracks that appear on the enamel or outer part of the tooth. They are usually harmless, cause little-to-no pain, and don’t require treatment. 
  • Fractured cusp: These cracks occur when a piece of the tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, generally around a filling. While it may cause minor discomfort, it doesn’t affect the pulp (soft center in the tooth).
  • Cracks in the gum line: This vertical crack extends from the chewing surface towards the root. If it doesn’t reach the gumline, it’s likely salvageable. If it reaches the gumline, it may require extraction. 
  • Split tooth: When a cracked tooth goes untreated, it can travel below the gum line into a split tooth. A split tooth is severe because the tooth separates into 2 distinct segments.
  • Vertical root fracture: These cracks begin below the gum line and extend upward towards the chewing surface. They can show symptoms if the tooth is infected and result in extraction. 

Treatment Options for Cracked Teeth

Your dentist will examine your teeth, take X-rays, check your gums for inflammation, and discuss your symptoms before recommending treatment. The appropriate treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the type and severity of the crack. 

Dental Bonding

For minor cracks, dental bonding can be an effective solution. In this procedure, a tooth-coloured resin fills the cracked area. Your dentist will shape and polish the resin to blend seamlessly with the natural tooth.

Dental Crown

When a cracked tooth has a larger or more severe fracture, a dental crown or custom-made cap made of porcelain or ceramic can cover and protect the damaged tooth, restoring its strength and appearance.

Root Canal 

If the crack extends into the pulp, a root canal treatment may be necessary to remove the infected pulp and clean and seal the tooth. A dental crown that’s added afterward can provide additional support.

Tooth Extraction

In cases where the crack has extended deep into the tooth or the tooth is severely fractured, extraction may be the only viable option. However, this is typically a last resort, as dentists strive to save natural teeth whenever possible.

A woman holding a mouth guard in front of her face with her left hand and looking directly at the camera

Preventing Cracked Teeth

Preventing cracked teeth is ideal. Here are some things you can do to help reduce the risk of cracks

  • If you participate in sports or engage in activities with a high risk of dental trauma, wear a mouthguard to protect your teeth from potential injuries.
  • If you grind or clench your teeth at night, speak to your dentist about getting a nightguard.
  • Avoid chewing on hard objects like ice, pens, or fingernails, as this can put excessive pressure on your teeth.
  • Practice good dental hygiene, such as brushing and flossing daily. 
  • Visit your dentist every 6 months for check-ups and cleanings to identify and treat potential issues before they worsen. 

If you experience the following symptoms, visit your dentist immediately as they may be a sign of infection:

  • Increased pain
  • Gum swelling
  • Increased sensitivity
  • Bad breath
  • Sore neck glands

Toothache is a dental emergency. While you wait for your dentist appointment, you can try some home remedies to help with symptom relief. These can include taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as ibuprofen and using a cold compress to reduce swelling. 

Protect Your Teeth with Prompt Dental Care & Treatment

While a cracked tooth can be concerning, it doesn’t always mean that extraction is necessary. Many cracked teeth can be successfully repaired and saved. 

The key is to visit your dentist promptly to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. If you have symptoms or suspect a cracked tooth, take a proactive approach and book an appointment with Arch King West Dental today. 

Written by Arch Dental

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