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Discovering small cracks in one’s teeth can be a cause for concern. However, not all cracks are created equal. This article delves into the different types of small cracks, their causes, implications, and the best course of action if you notice them.
Types of Cracks in Teeth
It’s essential to understand that there are various types of cracks that can occur in teeth. Some are normal, while others may require attention.
- Craze Lines: Craze lines are tiny cracks that only affect the outer enamel of the tooth. These are common in adults and are usually considered harmless. They do not cause pain and are mainly a cosmetic concern for some.
- Fractured Cusp: This occurs when a piece of the tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, often around a filling. It doesn’t usually damage the pulp, so it’s not very painful and can be easily treated.
- Cracked Tooth: This type of crack extends from the chewing surface down towards the root. It may sometimes reach the root, and early diagnosis is crucial to save the tooth.
- Split Tooth: This is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth. The crack has progressed further into the tooth, which might be separated into segments. It’s often difficult to save the entire tooth.
- Vertical Root Fracture: These cracks begin in the root and extend to the chewing surface. They may not show many symptoms and are often discovered when the surrounding bone and gums become infected.
Causes of Small Cracks in Teeth
Various factors can cause small cracks in your teeth, including:
- Age: Older adults are more likely to have craze lines
- Pressure: Grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw can cause cracks
- Temperature Changes: Frequently eating hot food followed by cold beverages can cause temperature fluctuations leading to cracks
- Trauma: A blow to the mouth can cause a tooth to crack
- Large Fillings: Teeth with large fillings may be weakened, causing cracks
Implications of Small Cracks in Teeth
Craze lines, the minute cracks on the surface, usually don’t have significant implications beyond aesthetics. However, other types of cracks can have various consequences, including pain while chewing, sensitivity, and even tooth loss if not properly managed.
What to Do If You Notice Small Cracks
If you observe small cracks in your teeth, it’s essential to monitor them. If they are merely craze lines with no discomfort or sensitivity, no immediate action may be necessary. However, if you experience pain, sensitivity, or if the cracks are noticeably deep, it’s crucial to consult your dentist.
Prevention and Care
- Avoiding Extreme Temperatures: Avoid consuming very hot and very cold food and beverages in succession
- Wearing a Mouthguard: If you grind your teeth at night, wear a mouthguard to protect them
- Regular Dental Check-ups: Regular visits to the dentist can help in early detection and management
While small cracks, especially craze lines, can be normal and not a cause for concern, it is essential to discern between harmless cracks and those that could compromise dental health. Being vigilant about changes in your teeth and practicing good oral hygiene can go a long way in ensuring your teeth stay healthy. If you are in doubt or experiencing symptoms, consult a dentist for a professional assessment.
This Q&A series article is complete and was published on October 25, 2018, and last updated on August 6, 2023.