Broken or cracked teeth are a common concern that many patients turn up to the dentist with; it is issue dentists deal with on a daily basis. At Windsor Dentists, we can provide you with advice to manage teeth that at risk of cracking or breaking, and if already broken, provide you with treatment options that allow you to eat normally again.
What will I feel if my tooth has broken?
The symptoms after a tooth has broken can vary from not having symptoms at all, to sensitivity, to severe pain; it really depends on the individual circumstance. Many of the patients we see typically experience sensitivity when drinking hot and cold drinks or when eating sweet, sour or sticky foods. Sensitivity may be accompanied by a sharp edge being exposure which may be felt by your tongue or cheeks. If the broken edge is sharp enough, you may experience trauma, ulceration or lacerations to other parts of your mouth.
If you are experiencing short sharp pain on biting without an obvious broken piece of tooth, this may be a sign of an incomplete or internal crack within a tooth. This specific symptom is a common indication of cracked tooth syndrome.
Why did my teeth crack or break?
Teeth crack and break for a number of reasons:
- Failing fillings – if you have large fillings the remaining amount of tooth may be thin and weak; like a heavily patched wall it is usually a matter of time before the patchwork or the entire wall breaks.
- Underlying grinding or clenching – excessive stresses and pressure on your teeth can cause internal stresses which eventually result in cracked and broken teeth. Grinding or clenching commonly occurs at night when you may not be aware of the underlying problem.
- Tooth decay – if a cavity becomes large enough to weaken the remaining tooth, a large piece may break due to the lack of remaining strength. The surprising thing is that cavities can form without any pain being experienced. In some cases, a broken tooth is the first indication of active tooth decay.
- Chewing on very hard foods – Tooth enamel is similar to glass when it comes to its strength. While very strong when compressed, the overlying enamel of teeth is brittle when exposed to heavy forces, typically chipping when very hard foods are crunched upon. Chewing really hard foods such as ice and hard boiled sweets should be avoided.
- Trauma – Direct injury resulting from a blow to the face can cause front teeth to fracture or break. If your front teeth have been previously repaired with composite bonding, these types of fillings are more likely to dislodge or fracture due to their position in the mouth.
- Habits – chewing on pens and pencils or using them to tap on teeth.
In our experience, broken teeth are usually caused by a combination of the factors above. In many instances the underlying causes may be present for months before a tooth eventually breaks. This is the reason why a tooth may break on soft foods, such as sandwiches, cakes and fruits, often to the surprise of many patients.
What can be done to treat my cracked or broken tooth?
The treatments available for you cracked tooth will depend of the location and severity of the cracked or broken portion. A small crack may simply require composite bonding using an adhesive tooth-coloured resin material. This is both a minimally invasive and cost effective treatment option, but may not be appropriate in all circumstances.
A larger broken portion will require more extensive treatment. If there is not enough remaining tooth to place a bonded restoration we may need to place a porcelain, zirconia or gold onlay/crown to protect your remaining tooth. These kinds of restorations are far stronger than bonded resins, are more natural looking and have a longer lifespan.
At Windsor Dentists, we use the latest and modern materials to restore your teeth to their original form and give you the confidence to eat normally, even nuts and pork crackling. Our dentists are able to offer you zirconia restorations, which are tooth-coloured, realistic and virtually unbreakable (zirconia crown hammer test). Compare to traditional ceramics (Emax – lithium disilicate), zirconia restorations require less tooth to be removed and are 3-4 times stronger.
Once bonded to your tooth, you are a ready to go!