What Can I Do About a Cracked Tooth?

When most of us have tooth pain, a cavity is typically the first issue that springs to mind. But cavities are just one cause of tooth pain. Sometimes, those painful symptoms can be due to a crack in your tooth, and without the right care, you might be setting yourself up for infections and other oral health problems.

At Dr. Taylor’s Family Dental Center, Marvin Taylor, DDS, uses a variety of techniques to repair cracked teeth and restore optimal oral health. If you’ve got a cracked tooth, here’s how to make sure you get the care you need to restore your beautiful smile.

Cracked teeth: Causes and symptoms

Tooth cracks can form for different reasons, but most cracks are caused either by a direct or indirect injury to the tooth. Sure, getting hit in the face by a ball or other object can cause a crack, but you can also injure your tooth by chewing on something hard, like ice cubes. 

Teeth weakened by prior decay or even just wear-and-tear tend to be more prone to cracks. If you have a large filling or you grind your teeth, you’re also at greater risk for developing a cracked tooth. But cracks can also form in perfectly healthy teeth.

The most common symptom of a cracked tooth is pain, especially when you bite or chew. Other symptoms include:

Depending on the extent of the crack, your symptoms might come and go. 

At-home care

A cracked tooth is a dental emergency, so the first thing you should do if you crack a tooth is call the office so we can make sure you’re treated as quickly as possible. But until you get to our office, there are a few things you can do to relieve your painful symptoms.

Apply ice

Because cracks can expose sensitive tooth nerves, you’re not going to want to put ice on the tooth or gum directly. Instead, you can apply an ice pack to the cheek area over the sore tooth to help reduce pain and swelling that might occur.

Use pain medication

Over-the-counter pain medicine, like ibuprofen, can help relieve both discomfort and inflammation around the tooth temporarily.

Rinse your mouth

You can keep the area clean and potentially reduce discomfort by rinsing with warm water. Adding a little salt to the water may also help relieve swelling.

Keep your head elevated

If you want to rest before your appointment, elevating your head will reduce the risk of swelling, and it can also relieve the throbbing sensation that may accompany the pain.

Watch what you eat (and drink)

Avoid very hot or very cold foods, since these can really irritate sensitive nerves exposed by the crack. Limit acidic foods, which can also cause irritation.

Try an over-the-counter anesthetic

Oil of cloves or a topical numbing gel can provide temporary relief from pain in some cases. 

Treating a cracked tooth

There are several options for treating cracked teeth. The best option for you will depend on the extent of the crack, the health of your tooth, and other factors. Before beginning any treatment, Dr. Taylor will evaluate your tooth to determine which approach is best.

A shallower crack might be corrected with a type of filling or bonding agent that can seal up the damaged area and strengthen it against future damage. A dental veneer can also be a good choice for more superficial cracks.

Deeper cracks require more extensive restorations to prevent infections, relieve pain, restore normal function, and prevent further damage in the future. Some cracks can be repaired with dental crowns or fillings, while others might require root canals or extraction. 

Remember, even a shallow crack makes it easier for bacteria to reach the deeper layers of your tooth. Getting prompt treatment for any type of tooth crack is essential for avoiding deep infections that can cause serious issues with your oral health and your overall health, too.

If you’re having tooth pain, don’t put off getting treatment. Call our office in Waterford, Michigan, or use our online form to book your appointment right now

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