Repairing Chipped or Broken Teeth
How Do We Chip or Crack Our Teeth?
Enamel, which covers the teeth and is the hardest substance in the human body, has its limits. Chewing on hard candy or ice, biting down hard, receiving a blow to the face, or grinding your teeth in your sleep could all cause a tooth to chip or crack. Poor hygiene and cavities can weaken our teeth and make them more susceptible to being chipped or cracked. A chip or crack might even be painless if the damage isn’t severe enough to expose the inner layer. If it’s only in the enamel, a crack might not be noticeable except when biting down hard or when the temperature in your mouth changes. Some cracks aren’t visible to the naked eye. This is why it’s so important to schedule regular appointments with Dr. Heezen, because he will be able to identify problems before they become painful.
What Types of Broken or Chipped Teeth Would Dr. Heezen Recommend Fixing?
Craze lines are tiny cracks in teeth. These types of cracks only affect the outer layer of the enamel. They’re very common in adults. They are extremely shallow and they don’t cause pain. Although they are not cosmetically pleasing, they’re not dangerous and do not require treament.
A fractured cusp is a fracture at the point of a tooth on the chewing surface. A cusp can become weakened and either break off on its own or may need to be removed by Dr. Heezen. Removing it relieves the pain in most cases. Fractured cusps rarely damage the pulp, so root canal treatment is usually not necessary. To repair the tooth back to normal, Dr. Heezen may recommend a crown.
With cracked teeth, some cracks extend all the way from the chewing surface down into the root of the tooth. Depending on the position of the crack, it might damage the pulp. In many cases, Dr. Heezen will recommend root canal treatment to fix a cracked tooth.
A split tooth happens when a tooth is cracked and, over time, the crack progresses until the tooth eventually splits into two separate parts. Depending on the gravity of the split, Dr. Heezen may not be able to save the tooth intact. Depending on the position and extent of the crack, he will determine whether part of the tooth can be saved with a crown or another restorative procedure.
Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin in the root of a tooth. Because the fracture line may not be visible, Dr. Heezen has to pay special attention to your symptoms in order to identify if you have one. Vertical root fractures are some of the most difficult fractures to identify. They are often fixed through endodontic treatment. It is sometimes possible to save part of the tooth, but in many cases the tooth needs to be removed.
How to Prevent Cracking or Chipping
It is difficult to completely prevent damage to our because almost everyone ends up with a certain amount eventually. Here are a few ideas that Dr. Heezen suggests to keep it to a minimum:
- Don’t chew on ice, popcorn kernels, pens, hard candy, or other hard objects.
- Don’t clench or grind your teeth.
- If you clench or grind your teeth while sleeping, speak with Dr. Heezen about getting a retainer or mouthguard.
- Wear a mouthguard when playing contact sports.
If you would like a closer examination of your teeth, give us a call to schedule a consultation. Call us at (507) 212-0002 or send us an email.