Our teeth tend to weaken as we get older, making them susceptible to tiny hairline fractures that aren’t visible to the naked eye. We increase our chances of developing cracked teeth by exposing them to trauma, such as bruxism and chewing on hard objects. Cracked tooth syndrome is also common in teeth that contain a large tooth filling, which can weaken any remaining healthy tooth structure over time.
There are several types of cracked teeth to be aware of, each requiring a different dental treatment plan:
Fractured Cusp — This happens when the cusp (the raised section of the biting surface of your tooth) becomes fractured. If a fractured cusp doesn’t break off on its own, it will need to be removed by a dentist and replaced by a dental crown.
Cracked Tooth — These cracks usually run vertically, originating from the top part of the crown and working their way down. Treatment typically entails a root canal followed by a dental crown. If the crack has extended below the gum line, the tooth may require a tooth extraction.
Split Tooth — When a cracked tooth is not treated, the crack can extend beyond the root, causing the tooth to split. Although these teeth are difficult to save, they can sometimes be treated with a root canal.
Vertical Root Fracture — Sometimes the crack starts at the bottom of the root and works its way up. If caught early, endodontic dental surgery may correct the situation.
The treatment for cracked teeth depends on the type of crack and the amount of damage that’s done. The earlier you catch a cracked tooth, the easier it is to save. In fact, cracks that have recently developed on the surface of the tooth may only require a dental crown. But if your fractured tooth needs a root canal, don’t feel discouraged. Not only can a root canal save your tooth from extraction, but it may preserve your tooth for the rest of your life!