Q: Whenever I bite down on the right side of my mouth, I feel a sharp pain. My dentist said that I may have cracked a tooth, but I don’t remember biting into anything hard. What could have caused my tooth to crack? And what can I do for it?
A: There are many factors that could have caused your tooth to crack without you even realizing it. Clenching, grinding and unnatural chewing motions can place abnormal stresses on a tooth, leading to a crack. Teeth with large fillings, along with teeth that have lost significant amounts of tooth structure due to aging or wear, are more susceptible to cracking.
Even subjecting tooth enamel to extreme variations in temperature, such as drinking hot tea and then sipping ice water, can cause teeth to crack. Of course, traumatic accidents and biting into hard objects or foods are obvious causes of tooth distress.
How do you know when your tooth has cracked? Well, many times the crack is not detectable on a x-ray, as it may be small and appear as a hairline fracture running vertically along the tooth. The best way to detect a crack is from your symptoms.
If you have sensitivity to cold, heat, air, sweet, sour, or to sticky foods, take note where it is coming from so that you may be able to help your dentist diagnose the origin of your problem. Cracked teeth usually hurt more upon the release of your bite than from the pressure of biting itself.
Don’t be alarmed just because your tooth may be sensitive. Not all sensitivity comes from a cracked tooth, and not all cracked teeth are causes for concern. Tiny cracks are often encountered, and usually do not require any dental treatment. Other times, bonding, onlays, veneers and dental crowns may be necessary to restore a cracked tooth. A tooth that is found to be severely cracked may require root canal therapy or even an extraction. Schedule an appointment with your dentist so that together you can diagnose the origin of your discomfort, and determine which treatment modality will best serve your condition.