Can A Cracked Tooth Heal On Its Own?
Do you have a cracked tooth? A cracked tooth is a common situation. Teeth may crack for a variety of reasons from biting into something hard to a dental injury. Some cracks can be seen and others can’t.
If you have a cracked tooth you may be wondering if it will heal on its own or if it needs treatment. Here’s what you need to know about how to handle a cracked tooth.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
You can’t always see it, so how do you know if you have a cracked tooth? Look for the following signs and symptoms:
- Toothache. A tooth that aches or throbs constantly may be infected due to a crack in the enamel.
- Pain that comes and goes. A cracked tooth can sometimes cause pain that is not constant, but comes and goes.
- Pain when chewing. If your tooth hurts when you chew in that area of your mouth, it may have a crack.
- Extreme sensitivity. A cracked tooth is often overly sensitive to cold, heat and sugar. The sensitivity often lingers after the source is removed.
When to Seek Treatment
A cracked tooth will not heal on its own. If you have any of the above signs or symptoms of a cracked tooth or any other symptoms that can’t be explained, it is time to see a professional. General dentists can treat some cracked teeth, but certain cases require the expertise of an endodontist. Some cracks are very small or exist in parts of the tooth that can’t be seen with the naked eye. Endodontists have high tech equipment that can locate even the smallest cracks.
Can Cracked Teeth Be Saved?
Some cracked teeth can be saved and others will need to be extracted. The type of treatment depends on the location and severity of the crack in many cases.
- Yes: If the crack is small and only exists above the gums, it can often be saved with a root canal and a crown.
- No: If the crack is large, deep or extends or begins below the gums, the tooth will most likely need to be extracted.
Causes of Cracked Teeth
You may be wondering what caused your tooth to crack. There are a few possible causes:
- Weakened enamel. Enamel, the hard outer layer of a tooth, can weaken due to age, tooth decay, lack of fluoride, medications and other causes.
- Injury. A blow to the mouth or a fall can cause a tooth to crack.
- Large fillings. A tooth with a large filling is at risk of cracking, especially those with metal fillings.
- Teeth grinding. Chronic bruxism, or teeth grinding, can weaken the teeth and lead to a crack.
- Chewing hard foods. Biting or chewing on hard candy, nuts, seeds or ice can cause a tooth to crack.
- Chewing non-food items. If you bite or chew items that are not for eating, such as pens and pencils or if you use your teeth to open containers or remove tags, you are at a higher risk of a cracked tooth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cracked Teeth
Does a cracked tooth need a root canal?
In most cases a cracked tooth should have a root canal to prevent infection of the dental pulp. Bacteria can enter the inner chamber of a tooth, the root canal, through the crack. If the tooth is not already infected, it is at a high risk.
Does a cracked tooth need a crown?
In many cases a cracked tooth will also need a crown. A filling is not always effective to prevent the crack from worsening. It also depends on the size and depth of the crack. The larger and deeper the crack is, the more likely it will need a crown.
When To See North County Endodontics
If you have any of the signs and symptoms of a cracked tooth, North County Endodontics can provide the necessary treatment, if the tooth can be saved. We can assess the crack and make a recommendation for the best course of action that offers the best chance of preserving the natural tooth.