Cracking your tooth can be painful but it’s fairly common. Although you’ll need to visit your dentist, the type of treatment they perform will vary from no treatment for tiny cracks to bonding, veneers or crowns depending on the location, type and severity of the crack.
What causes cracked teeth
Here are some of the most common causes of cracked teeth and how to prevent them.
- Chewing hard foods, such as ice, popcorn kernels or hard candy1
- Tooth clenching or tooth grinding2
- Sports injuries
- Using your teeth to cut things
- General wear and tear
Types of tooth cracks
Not all teeth crack in the same way. There are five types of tooth fractures, varying in terms of severity:3
- Craze lines - Craze lines are tiny cracks in the teeth that cause no pain and affect the outer enamel.4 These types of cracks are very common in adult teeth. While craze lines may cause your teeth to look different, they are harmless and do not require dental treatment.
- Cracked tooth - This type of tooth crack starts at the chewing surface of your tooth and extends down toward the root. If the crack isn’t very deep, this is treatable – however, if the crack extends below the gum line, the tooth may require extraction.
- Fractured cusp - A fractured cusp occurs when a piece of a tooth’s chewing surface breaks off, often around a filling.
- Vertical root fracture - Vertical root fractures begin at the root of the tooth and extend upward, towards the chewing surface. This type of tooth crack usually shows minimal signs and symptoms, making it difficult to detect.
- Split tooth - A split tooth occurs when a tooth is split into two separate parts, often as a result of an untreated cracked tooth. Though a split tooth cannot be saved intact, part of the tooth may be salvageable.
How to fix a cracked tooth
If you’ve chipped or cracked your tooth, you should see your dentist as soon as possible.5 Before you visit the dentist, you should rinse your mouth with warm water to clean the area and put a cold compress on your face to reduce swelling.6
The type of cracked tooth treatment your dentist performs will depend on the location, type and severity of the crack.7 An in-office visit will help you and your dentist best determine the appropriate method of treatment, but your dentist may treat your cracked tooth in one of the following ways:
- Bonding - Bonding is a common method of treatment to fill tooth cracks and repair tooth chips. Bonding occurs when a plastic resin or porcelain material is used to fill the crack in order to restore the shape of the tooth.8
- Veneers - Veneers are thin, custom-made shells designed to cover the front side of teeth.9 They’re an attractive (though usually rather expensive) option for correcting chipped or cracked teeth.
- Crowns – One of the most common treatments for cracked teeth, a crown is a cover or cap that can help protect a weak or broken tooth and restore it to its normal shape.10
- No treatment - In some cases, your dentist may recommend no treatment at all, as tiny tooth cracks are common and often don’t cause problems. Still, even if the crack appears small to you, it’s best to consult your dentist.
It’s important to note that while tooth cracks and fractures can be treated, they do not heal completely as broken bones do. Even after treatment, a crack may get worse, which can result in tooth loss.11 However, treating your cracked or chipped tooth can still alleviate pain, reduce discomfort and help your tooth work normally for years after treatment.
How much does it cost to fix a cracked tooth?
The cost of fixing a cracked tooth can vary greatly based on the type of treatment you need, the affected tooth and the severity of the crack. For example, veneers can cost between $250 to $2,500 per tooth.12 Dental crowns and bonding tend to be less expensive.
Treatment procedures for fixing a cracked tooth can be covered by dental insurance. The cost of not fixing a cracked tooth can be even greater. If left unchecked, a cracked tooth may require other costly treatments down the road, including root canals or extraction. If you suspect you may have a cracked or chipped tooth, be sure to see a dentist as soon as possible.
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Brought to you by The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), New York, NY. Material discussed is meant for general illustration and/or informational purposes only and it is not to be construed as tax, legal, investment or medical advice. This is not dental care advice and should not be substituted for regular consultation with your dentist. If you have any concerns about your dental health, please contact your dentist's office.