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FAQs for a Chipped, Cracked, or Fractured Tooth

By Dr. Gregg M. Festa, DDSfractured tooth, cracked tooth, craze lines

Teeth can become chipped, cracked, or fractured in a variety of ways including eating hard foods, biting your nails, or grinding your teeth. It is rare for this to happen to a healthy tooth that does not have any decay or fillings. However, if your tooth is already compromised, there is more of an opportunity for a chip, crack or fracture to occur.  

What is the recommended treatment of a chipped, cracked, or fractured tooth?

If your tooth is damaged, you do need to seek treatment from your dentist and we recommend that you get to your dentist as soon as possible to avoid further damage. While waiting for treatment, avoid eating hard or sticky foods and temperature extremes.

Treatment  would begin with an exam of the tooth in question and an x-ray. Treatment possibilities range from enamelplasty, to a filling, to a crown, or even tooth extraction in some severe cases.

  1. Enamelplasty is the least invasive solution where your dentist will smooth your tooth over.  This service is provided when your tooth has a small chip with very minor damage.
  2. A Tooth Colored Filling is the next level of treatment that your dentist may take if the chip, crack, or fracture is a bit deeper
  3. A Tooth Colored Crown or Cap placement is a solution if the tooth chip,crack,or fracture is too large to fix through a filling
  4. In extreme cases with a non restorable tooth or if your tooth is cracked to the root, a dentist would perform a tooth extraction and replace your damaged tooth with a dental implant, fixed bridge, or a removable bridge

The most common treatment types are the tooth colored filling or tooth colored crown.

What happens to a cracked or fractured tooth without treatment?

Cracked or fractured teeth that go untreated can cause additional dental health issues. Cracks and fractures on your teeth will not get better, they are only going to get progressively worse without treatment.Cracks and fractures will make your tooth more susceptible to decay. With more severe cases, your tooth could suffer a tooth abscess and eventually need a root canal in addition to a crown.

Are craze lines the same as a fractured tooth?

Craze lines are minor lines seen on teeth caused by clenching, grinding, any trauma to the mouth, chewing, or temperature extremes on your teeth. Most crazed lines do not need any treatment but it is best to discuss any potential treatment options with your dentist if you would like a cosmetic change.

What are some recommendations I can take to prevent a chipped, cracked, or fractured tooth?

  • Do not bite your nails
  • Do not eat unpopped popcorn
  • Do not open items with your teeth
  • Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth
  • Wear a mouthguard if you play a sport that suggest one
  • Keep yourself and your teeth healthy