Common causes of a chipped or cracked tooth
There are several factors that can contribute to a cracked tooth, ranging from accidental trauma to underlying dental conditions.
Below are the top 10 causes of cracked teeth that we see from our patients:
- Biting hard objects
- Tooth decay
- Teeth grinding (bruxism)
- Temperature changes
- Dental work
- Poor dental hygiene
- Weakened enamel
One of the primary causes of a cracked tooth is physical injury or trauma to the mouth. This can happen due to accidents, falls, sports-related injuries, or even biting down on hard objects. The force exerted on the tooth during such incidents can cause it to chip or crack. Direct impact on the teeth can cause them to chip or crack.
Biting hard objects:
Biting on hard substances like ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, pens, or bottle caps can exert excessive force on your teeth and lead to chips or cracks.
Untreated tooth decay can weaken the structure of the tooth, making it more susceptible to chipping or cracking.
Teeth grinding (bruxism):
Consistent teeth grinding, often done unconsciously during sleep, can gradually wear down and weaken tooth enamel, making the teeth more prone to damage. The constant pressure and friction exerted on the teeth during grinding can weaken their structure and make them more prone to damage.
Rapid and extreme temperature changes in the mouth, such as consuming very hot or very cold food or beverages and then immediately exposing your teeth to something of the opposite temperature, can cause stress on the teeth and result in cracks over time.
As you age, your teeth may naturally become more brittle and prone to chipping or cracking.
Fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations can weaken the tooth structure around them, potentially leading to chipping or cracking.
Poor dental hygiene:
Neglecting regular dental care and failing to brush and floss properly can lead to tooth decay and weakened enamel, increasing the risk of chips and cracks.
Enamel erosion due to acidic foods and beverages, as well as conditions like acid reflux or bulimia, can leave teeth more vulnerable to chipping and cracking.
Some people may have naturally weaker or thinner enamel, making their teeth more prone to damage.
Teeth that don’t align correctly, creating an uneven bite, can subject certain teeth to more pressure and increase the likelihood of chipping or cracking.
What to do if you chip your tooth?
When faced with a cracked tooth, it is important to take immediate action to prevent further damage and alleviate any discomfort. Here are some steps that Dr. Ali Shmara recommends you can take if you chip your tooth:
- Assess the damage: Carefully examine the affected tooth to determine the extent of the crack or chip. If there is severe pain or bleeding, we advise seeking professional dental care promptly.
- Rinse your mouth: Gently rinse your mouth with warm water to cleanse the area and remove any debris that may be present.
- Manage pain and swelling: If you experience pain or swelling, applying a cold compress on the outside of your cheek can help reduce discomfort and minimize swelling.
- Protect sharp edges: If there are any sharp edges on the chipped tooth, cover them temporarily with dental wax or sugarless gum to prevent further injury to your tongue or cheeks.
- Avoid certain foods: To prevent aggravating the chipped tooth, avoid chewing on hard foods such as ice, nuts, or hard candies until you can see a dentist.
- Schedule a dental appointment: It is crucial to visit a dentist as soon as possible after chipping your tooth. Dr. Shmara will assess the damage and recommend appropriate treatment options based on the severity of the chip.
How do you know if you chipped your tooth?
One common indicator of a chipped tooth is visible damage or irregularity on the surface of the affected tooth. This can range from a small chip or fracture to more extensive cracks. Additionally, you may experience sensitivity or pain when biting down or chewing, especially if the crack has reached the inner layers of the tooth where nerves are located.
It is also possible to feel rough edges with your tongue or notice changes in your bite alignment. In some cases, you may even notice intermittent pain that occurs without any apparent cause.
What happens if a chipped tooth is left untreated?
When a chipped tooth is left untreated, it can lead to various complications and dental issues. A cracked or chipped tooth may seem like a minor concern, but it can have significant consequences if not addressed promptly.
Leaving a chipped tooth untreated can result in further damage to the tooth structure. The crack or chip can worsen over time, making the tooth more vulnerable to decay and infection. Bacteria can enter the exposed area, leading to cavities and gum disease.
An untreated cracked tooth may cause sensitivity and pain when chewing or consuming hot or cold beverages. The discomfort can progressively worsen as the damage spreads or deepens.
In some cases, an untreated chipped tooth may also affect your bite alignment. This misalignment can lead to additional dental problems such as jaw pain, headaches, and even temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ).
It is essential to seek professional dental care when you chip a tooth. At Riverside Cosmetic Dentist – Dr. Ali Shmara, we have various treatment options available depending on the severity of the damage. Prompt intervention can prevent further complications and help restore both the functionality and aesthetics of your smile.
Remember that neglecting a chipped tooth not only jeopardizes your oral health but also impacts your overall well-being. Therefore, seeking timely treatment from a qualified dentist is crucial for maintaining optimal oral hygiene and preventing potential long-term consequences.
How to prevent teeth from chipping?
Preventing teeth from breaking can help you maintain good oral health and avoid discomfort and pain.
By following a few simple guidelines, you can minimize the risk of experiencing a cracked tooth or chipped teeth.
Practicing good oral hygiene is essential. Regular brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste helps to keep teeth strong and healthy. Additionally, flossing daily removes plaque buildup between the teeth, reducing the chances of tooth decay and weakening enamel.
Avoiding habits that put excessive pressure on the teeth is also important. This includes refraining from biting or chewing on hard objects such as ice, pens, or fingernails. Similarly, using teeth as tools to open packages or bottles should be avoided to prevent potential damage.
Wearing a mouthguard during activities that pose a risk of dental injury can provide significant protection. For instance, individuals participating in contact sports or engaging in activities with potential impact should consider using a custom-fitted mouthguard to safeguard their teeth from trauma.
Regular dental check-ups are crucial for identifying any signs of weakened enamel or existing cracks in the teeth. Dr. Shmara can provide professional advice on preventive measures specific to your oral health needs.