Anyone who suspects that they have a cracked tooth should see a dentist immediately. Leaving a cracked tooth untreated may lead to more problems. Some types of cracks are harmless and do not require treatment. However, if a person notices the following symptoms, they may have a more extensive crack that requires dental treatment:
- pain when eating;
- swollen gums around the cracked tooth;
- teeth that have suddenly become sensitive to sweetness, heat or cold;
- pain that comes and goes; and,
- discomfort around the teeth and gums that is hard to pinpoint.
If the crack is not visible, a dentist will try to make a diagnosis by asking the person about their symptoms and dental history. The dentist will then examine the teeth, possibly using a magnifying glass and other tools and techniques to help to identify cracks.
The longer that a cracked tooth goes untreated, the more difficult it may be for a dentist to save it. Tooth cracks are more common in people over 40 and in women.
The best treatment depends on the location of the crack and the extent of the damage. Treatments for cracked teeth include:
- gluing on the chipped or broken part of a tooth;
- repairing the crack with plastic resin;
- using a filling;
- using a crown;
- root canal; and,
Cracked teeth are not always preventable, but a few strategies can help:
- avoid foods that are hard to chew;
- stop grinding the teeth or biting on pens; and,
- try not to clench the teeth.