Conditions,  Health,  Q&A

Why Are Teeth Cracking?

This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!

Experiencing cracks or breaks in one’s teeth is a common dental concern. This Q&A answer aims to shed light on the possible reasons behind teeth cracking or breaking off and the measures one can take to address and prevent these issues.

Tooth Cracks and Breaks

Tooth cracks and breaks range from minor chipping of the enamel to severe fractures that expose the tooth’s inner layers. Such damage can not only compromise the structural integrity of the tooth but also lead to discomfort, sensitivity, and infection.

Causes of Teeth Cracking and Breaking Off

There are several factors that contribute to the cracking or breaking off of teeth. Identifying these factors is crucial for preventing further damage.

  • Tooth Decay: Long-standing tooth decay can weaken the tooth’s structure. As decay progresses, it eats away at the enamel and dentin, making the tooth more susceptible to cracks and breaks.
  • Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Chronic grinding or clenching of teeth, known as bruxism, subjects teeth to excessive pressure. This can cause fractures or even lead to pieces of the tooth breaking off.
  • Old Dental Fillings: Large, old fillings may weaken the tooth’s structure. If a significant portion of the tooth is replaced by a filling, the tooth is more likely to crack or break.
  • Eating Hard Foods: Biting on hard foods like ice, hard candies, or nuts can cause the teeth to crack or chip.
  • Temperature Extremes: Exposure to extreme temperature differences, such as consuming hot coffee followed by an ice-cold drink, can cause the tooth to expand and contract. This thermal stress can cause cracks.
  • Trauma: Physical trauma, such as a blow to the mouth or jaw, can cause teeth to crack or break.
  • Brittleness from Root Canal Treatments: Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment can become more brittle because they are no longer vital, increasing the risk of cracks and breaks.

Addressing Cracked or Broken Teeth

If you notice a crack or a portion of your tooth has broken off, it’s important to seek dental care promptly.
Here are the steps you should take:

  • Contact Your Dentist: Call your dentist and explain the situation. They may want to see you immediately or schedule an appointment based on the severity.
  • Keep the Area Clean: Rinse your mouth with warm water to keep the area clean. Avoid chewing on the affected tooth.
  • Manage Pain and Swelling: For pain, over-the-counter pain relievers can be used. If there’s swelling, applying a cold compress can help.
  • Save any Broken Pieces: If a piece of the tooth has broken off, save it and bring it to your appointment.

Preventive Measures

To prevent your teeth from cracking or breaking, consider the following steps:

  • Regular Dental Check-ups: Regular dental check-ups will ensure that issues such as decay or worn fillings are addressed before they cause your teeth to crack or break.
  • Use a Mouth Guard: If you suffer from bruxism, using a mouth guard at night can help protect your teeth from the pressure of grinding and clenching.
  • Be Cautious with What You Eat: Avoid chewing on hard objects and be mindful of the temperature of the foods and drinks you consume.
  • Proper Oral Hygiene: Maintaining proper oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily is essential to keep your teeth strong.

Bottom Line

Understanding the causes behind teeth cracking and breaking off is essential for taking preventive measures. Through a proactive approach to oral hygiene, mindful eating habits, and regular dental care, you can significantly reduce the risk of experiencing these issues and maintain a healthy set of teeth for the long term.

This Q&A series article is complete and was published on July 22, 2023, and last updated on July 22, 2023.

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