Teeth are exceptionally strong, but they can chip, crack or break. This can happen while biting down on something hard, getting hit in the face or mouth, falling on a hard surface, due to cavities that weaken the tooth, and due to old amalgam fillings that don't support the remaining enamel of the tooth.
When a tooth chips or breaks you may not feel any pain, although your tongue usually feels the sharp area quite quickly. Minor tooth fractures may not hurt, but if a large piece of the tooth breaks off, it can lead to pain. The nerve inside the tooth can get damaged. When nerve endings in the dentin are exposed to air and hot/cold foods or drinks extreme discomfort also can happen.
Pain from a broken or cracked tooth may be constant or may come and go. A lot of people feel pain while chewing because it causes pressure on the tooth.
Different types of Broken Tooth
When a piece of a tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, usually around a filling, it is called a fractured cusp. A fractured cusp does not always damage the pulp, and most of the times does not cause much pain. Your dentist at Aussie Smile Dentist can place a new filling or crown over the damaged tooth to protect it.
When a crack extends from the chewing surface of your tooth directly toward the root it is called a cracked tooth. The tooth is not yet into pieces, but the crack may gradually spread. Early diagnosis is important in order to save the tooth. If the crack has extended into the pulp, the tooth can be treated with a root canal procedure and a crown to protect the crack from spreading.
However, if the crack extends below the gum line, it is no longer treatable, and the tooth cannot be saved and will need to be removed. That’s why early treatment is so important. A cracked tooth that is not treated will get worse, eventually resulting in the loss of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential in saving these teeth.
A split tooth is often the result of the long term progression of a cracked tooth. You can identify a split tooth when there is a crack with distinct segments that can be separated. A split tooth cannot be saved intact. The position and extent of the crack will determine whether any portion of the tooth can be saved. Often, endodontic treatment can be performed to save a part of the tooth.
Vertical Root Fracture
Vertical root fractures are cracks that presents in the root of the tooth and extend toward the chewing surface. They often do not show any symptoms and may go unnoticed for some time. Vertical root fractures are mainly discovered when the surrounding bone and gum get infected. Treatment may involve the removal of the tooth.