Dental fractures are more common than you might imagine. Your teeth may break, chip, or crack due to a wide range of reasons, leading to severely painful symptoms and dangerous consequences. Luckily, identifying the problem and discussing methods of treatment with your dental specialist can help you avoid unnecessary discomfort and irreversible damage.
Keep on reading to discover the five key facts about dental fractures, their symptoms, culprits, and treatment options.
1. What dental fractures look and feel like
Dental fractures usually occur without any obvious symptoms. Most of them start as microscopic cracks along the typically smooth tooth surface and are undetectable to the naked eye. Your dental specialist can diagnose these cracks by applying detection dyes to the teeth.
Some fractures can be quite visible, taking the form of hideous chips and splits in the teeth. In severe cases, one or more of your teeth can shatter into pieces, leaving only the pulp and the portion of dentin still attached to your jawbone.
Minor cracks in the outer surface of your teeth (also called hairline cracks) may be completely painless. However, a severe crack that causes tooth parts to shift can irritate the fragile nerves in the pulp, resulting in extreme pain whenever you eat or even move your jaws. Besides, the unprotected pulp can respond painfully to the temperature changes.
2. Why dental fractures occur
Even the enamel, the strongest material in your body, can only take so much. If you bite down on a solid item with complete force, your enamel can easily break or crack. A blow to the face or jaw can result in tooth breaking and chipping as well. Even daily wear and tear can lead to damaged teeth, particularly on those older than 50 or diagnosed with bruxism.
3. How dental fractures trigger other problems
Apart from causing severe toothache, dental fractures can put you at risk of experiencing pain from oral infections. Even the smallest pits and fissures in your enamel can allow bacteria to enter the insides of your tooth. This can result in infection accompanied by extreme pain in your tooth and jaw.
Don’t take such a problem lightly, as oral infection can lead to further complications if left untreated. Bacteria can affect the roots of adjacent teeth or even travel via blood vessels in your jaw to different organs in your body, putting you at risk of potentially life-threatening conditions. Timely treatment is the best way to prevent such risk.
4. Which restorative option to consider
Dental fracture treatment depends on its severity and the area of your mouth that’s affected. If there are only one or a few minor cracks, nothing except routine monitoring for changes may be needed. If the affected tooth is highly sensitive or exposed to bacteria and additional damage, you may require some restorative treatment.
Consider installing dental veneers to safeguard and cover chips and cracks in your front teeth. This restorative method is minimally invasive and quite affordable. However, if the affected tooth is weak or has undergone a root canal, it may benefit more from a dental crown.
5. When extracting and replacing the tooth is needed
Fractured teeth cannot always be saved with restorative treatment. For example, crowning the affected tooth doesn’t necessarily repair the split or crack that extends down into the tooth. Sometimes your tooth can endure irreversible damage that disables it from supporting the crown.
In such a case, your dental specialist may recommend pulling it out. Extraction not only helps to stop the pain but also eliminates the odds of additional infections. Once the extraction site heals, your missing tooth can be replaced with a dental implant.