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Detecting and Treating a Cracked Tooth

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

How do you know if you have a cracked tooth? Well, the truth is, most of the time you don’t, unless you have x-ray vision. Hairline cracks in teeth can go unnoticed for some time. Here’s how to know if your tooth is cracked and what to do.

What Causes a Tooth to Crack?

Chewing on hard foods, such as candies, or even crunching on ice, can fracture a tooth. Stress-induced teeth grinding and jaw clenching can crack teeth as well. Less frequently, an accident or a blow to the jaw can also lead to a cracked tooth. In those cases, it’s usually a front tooth that’s affected. Additionally, just general wear and tear can cause a tooth to crack.

What Are the Signs That Your Tooth is Cracked?

It can be difficult to self diagnose because a hairline tooth fracture or crack can be so tiny, you will not be able to see it. Sometimes your dentist won’t even be able to diagnose it, even with an x-ray. However, there are some signs you can feel. If you experience pain when you bite into food or if your teeth are sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, you may have a cracked tooth.

What Steps Should You Take

If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, make an appointment with your dental professional. Let the office know which tooth you suspect is cracked and if you have any symptoms. If it’s a front tooth, they may get want to get you in right away. If you are experiencing symptoms – pain with chewing or sensitivity to hot and cold, the sooner you get to your dentist, the better.

If you do indeed have a cracked tooth, these treatments may be needed. These include bonding, a crown, or even a root canal prior to restoring the tooth. Your dentist will determine which one is best for you. The location and severity of the crack will be a factor in that decision.

It can be difficult to know if you have a cracked tooth. Many times they go undetected until you experience pain or are sensitive to hot and cold. A cracked tooth may even go unnoticed until a routine dental appointment (another good reason to stay on schedule). If you have one, it is treatable, but the sooner you have it taken care of, the better.


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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.

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