Do you have a fractured tooth?
Does one of these situations sound familiar?
- When you bite down, you feel a sudden sharp brief pain.
- You feel a jolt when you eat or drink something hot or cold.
- You’ve noticed subtle but visible crack lines on your teeth.
If you can relate, there’s a chance you have a tooth with a hairline fracture.
What is a hairline tooth fracture?
Fractured teeth aren’t always critically cracked or broken. Hairline fractures are surprisingly common but often go unnoticed because the crack is so fine. A very close look in the mirror may show hairline fractures on the front teeth, but seeing such delicate cracks on the back teeth can be impossible.
What causes hairline cracks in teeth?
Many things can cause hairline fractures, such as:
- Sudden swings in temperature, such as eating something very hot or quickly drinking ice-cold water.
- Chewing on hard objects (e.g. ice or hard candy) or using teeth as tools to open something.
- Accidents and facial impacts from a fall, car collision, or sports injury.
- Unmanaged bruxism (teeth grinding) puts excessive pressure on the teeth, especially at night.
Age is also a contributing factor in hairline fractures. Cracked teeth are more often seen in either very young kids or older adults. Baby teeth are more delicate than permanent adult teeth, and children are more apt to fall or chew on objects. As for older adults, teeth that have experienced general wear and tear associated with age make them more vulnerable to developing hairline cracks.
How can I tell if my tooth has a hairline fracture?
Your dentist can quickly diagnose hairline fractures, but there are a few clues you can pick up on yourself.
Teeth with hairline fractures usually cause some sort of teeth sensitivity or localized tooth pain. While severe toothaches are rare, it’s possible for even a small crack in a tooth to cause sharp pain when exposed to temperature swings or pressure from chewing.
It’s important to always see your dentist if you’re experiencing any sort of sensitivity or discomfort. Even the mildest tooth pain is abnormal and should be evaluated.
Do hairline tooth fractures need immediate care?
Any level of dental damage requires professional dental care, including the smallest hairline tooth fracture!
Letting a hairline fracture go without treatment makes the tooth much more susceptible to decay. Bacteria like to congregate in the crevices of your teeth, and a cracked tooth is an especially inviting environment. Decay can occur much more rapidly and often trigger a painful toothache as the bacteria can eat into the dentin and pulp layer much more quickly through the fracture.
Hairline fractures also expand and worsen over time, possibly even leading to a broken tooth. It’s much easier to repair a hairline fracture while it’s still quite small than wait until it could possibly need a root canal, dental crown, or even an extraction.
How can a dentist repair hairline fractures?
Since hairline fractures are relatively small, there are several treatment options for repairing your tooth.
Dental veneers are a classic cosmetic dental service that is ideal for covering craze lines (vertical lines in the enamel that are often discolored or translucent) or superficial hairline fractures. Veneers also protect and stabilize the tooth, but only the front surface.
A dental crown is a more suitable solution for teeth needing more stability and coverage as they completely envelop the tooth. They’re also often necessary if a tooth with a deep fracture requires root canal therapy.
If bruxism is the cause of your tooth’s hairline fracture, more care would be needed than simply repairing the crack. Your dentist can supply you with a custom-made night guard to wear while you sleep. This mouthguard-like oral appliance will protect your teeth from further wear and tear.
Don’t forget to also see your dentist every six months for a checkup and cleaning. These preventive care appointments are crucial for maintaining optimal oral health and preventing future hairline fractures.
Get relief from cracked tooth pain at Allred Family Dentistry.
Our dentists in Hampton and Griffin, GA, can pinpoint the cause of your hairline tooth fracture, repair the damage, and provide guidance on preventing future dental damage.
Remember that the sooner your tooth is diagnosed and repaired, the easier and quicker treatment will be. If you’re experiencing sensitivity or pain, or see a crack in your tooth, call your preferred location today to schedule an appointment.