What should you do if you or anyone in your family has a cracked molar? Doing things like biting into ice or hard candy, or having a tooth grinding habit, can lead to a cracked tooth. Your molars are particularly vulnerable to cracks because they absorb most of the force during chewing. There may or may not be noticeable symptoms, but make a dental appointment right away anyway. Your dentist can look at the molar and determine how minor or serious the crack is. A minor crack may only be a cosmetic issue, but serious fractures do require treatment.
There may be little or no pain associated with a cracked tooth. You may only notice pain when eating or when the molar is exposed to hot or cold liquids. Pay attention to where exactly any pain is coming from so you can tell your dentist. Try to avoid chewing on the side of your mouth that has the cracked molar. Biting can open the crack and irritate the soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels.
If the crack is minor and has only affected the hardened outer layer of your tooth, known as the enamel, then your dentist may not recommend any treatment. According to the American Association of Endodontists, these minor cracks are relatively common with adult teeth. They are known as craze lines. By simply polishing your tooth, your dentist can improve its appearance.
When a crack cuts through more than the enamel, then treatment is needed to prevent problems like an infection or a deeper fracture. Depending on how severe a crack is, your dentist may recommend a crown, a root canal, or removal of the tooth. In some cases filling material can be used to repair the crack and a crown can stop it from getting worse. If the soft tissue inside your tooth has been affected, then your doctor may recommend a root canal to remove damaged tissue. According the the American Dental Association, while a root canal is a more intense treatment than a crown, it can help to save your tooth in the case of a fracture that has affected the whole tooth. A final option is to have the molar removed. This is done when the tooth cannot be saved because the root of the tooth has been damaged.
Accidents, very hard foods, and even teeth grinding can lead to cracks or fractures. See your dentist right away to find out what can be done for your tooth. Learn more about cracked and broken teeth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.