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Dr. Michael W. Stuart

Dr. Craig E. Stannebein

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Learn The Causes, Symptoms of Cracked Teeth

  • March 25, 2016
Dental Anxiety 1 | Legacy Smiles - Billings, MT

You’ve always taken care of your teeth, or so you thought.

Then, one day, you feel pain while you are drinking your morning coffee. Letting the coffee cool down fixed that problem, but it still has you a little worried.

You’re having a breakfast of eggs and bacon, or you’re trying to. The bacon is a little crispy. For some reason, every bite has you nearly wincing in pain.

What could the problem be?

You may have a cracked tooth. If you do, you need to see a dentist right away. And if you live in or near Billings, MT, then you should call Legacy Smiles at (406) 794-3114.

Even if you don’t have a cracked tooth, that kind of pain is a good sign that you are having a dental emergency. Getting help as soon as possible needs to be a priority.

Signs Of A Cracked Tooth

Cracked teeth can be harder to detect than some other tooth problems. Small cracks may not be visible to the naked eye, and in some cases, they may not be detectable with X-rays, either.

The symptoms of cracked teeth start with pain when you are biting or chewing food. This pain may occur not when you are biting down, but rather when you are releasing the pressure on your tooth.

Biting down can open the crack, which may expose the pulp, blood vessels, and nerves inside your tooth. When you release your bite, you may feel pain as the crack closes rapidly.

This also may explain why you are experiencing sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. The crack is allowing some of your coffee or ice cold soft drink to contact the nerves inside your tooth.

What Causes Cracked Teeth

Multiple things can lead to cracked teeth. Here are a few common examples:

  • Chewing on hard foods

This can include candy (they call them jawbreakers for a reason), nuts, and ice.

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth

This puts added pressure on your teeth, which can weaken the enamel and work deeper into the tooth.

  • Unequal chewing pressure

You may be putting more stress on certain teeth if you tend to chew on one side of your mouth, due to habit or due to a bite misalignment.

  • Wear and tear

Just like tools, vehicles, or furniture, teeth can wear down the more you use them.

  • Exposure to extreme temperatures

Eating a bowl of ice cream while drinking a hot cup of coffee would be an example of this kind of extreme temperature difference.

  • Previous dental work

If you have a tooth that has had multiple fillings, for example, that tooth may not be as strong as it used to be.

How Is A Cracked Tooth Treated?

This will depend on the size and severity of the crack.

A fractured cusp occurs when the crack is limited to the outer layers of your teeth (the enamel and dentin). In general, these kinds of cracks don’t cause a lot of pain.

This may be fixable with a dental crown or with a filling.

Split teeth are teeth that have a crack in the middle. This is often the result of a crack that has spread slowly from the top of your tooth down into the root.

This tooth may need to be removed and replaced with a dental implant and dental crown depending on the depth of the crack. A root canal treatment may work on teeth with smaller cracks.

A vertical root fracture occurs when the crack starts in the root of your tooth rather than the crown. Because of the location of these cracks, you may not see anything unusual or feel any pain until the bone and gums around the tooth become infected.

Treatment for this kind of crack may involve tooth removal as well.

Teeth Are Different Than Bones

You or someone you know may have broken a bone or two during your life. Bones can heal. This is why doctors will set them and put them in a cast. This helps to hold the bone in the right position so it can heal correctly.

Teeth, on the other hand, cannot heal themselves. Dental crowns can limit the pain of a cracked tooth. In many patients, treating the crack with allow the tooth to continue to function for years or decades, but in other cases, the crack may continue to grow even after the initial treatment.

Get Help Immediately

If you suspect that you may have a cracked tooth or some other dental emergency, don’t waste any time.

Contact Legacy Smiles dentist office in Billings, MT. Call (406) 794-3114. If you are calling outside our regular hours, call the number provided on answering machine message to contact one of our staff members.


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