You bite down; you feel a sharp, stinging pain. The moment you stop chewing or biting, the pain fades and you may choose to ignore it. Post this, you either start using only a particular side of your mouth or avoid foods and drinks of certain types or temperature. Does all this sound familiar? If so, you must be having a hairline tooth fracture. However, before you hit the panic alarm, let’s understand what a hairline tooth fracture is and what its causes are.
What is hairline tooth fracture?
A small crack in the tooth is a hairline tooth fracture. It’s a common condition and one of the leading causes of tooth loss all over the world. The different types of cracks which can appear are:
Lines which appear on the enamel, better known as craze lines. This does not cause any pain and do not require any treatment.
Cracks which run up and down the tooth. These are called vertical lines. If the crack does not touch the gum, then it’s possible to save the tooth. However, the tooth needs to be extracted, if the crack touches the gum line.
If the crack divides a single tooth, then it’s called a split tooth. If the crack is big, then the tooth will need to be extracted.
Sometimes, there could be a crack around a dental filling. This is called the fractured cusp and they generally don’t cause much pain.
What causes hairline tooth fracture?
In many cases, biting into a hard object can cause the tooth to develop a crack. Stress – related habits such as grinding of teeth or jaw clenching, can also cause hairline fracture to the tooth. Another obvious reason could be an accident or forceful trauma. Change in temperature of mouth as well as age can also increase the chances of a tooth developing a crack.
Symptoms of hairline tooth fracture:
- Pain while chewing, especially while releasing the bite.
- Tooth sensitivity towards sweet, hot or cold food.
- Shooting on and off pain.
- Swelling gum around affected tooth.
Treatment for hairline tooth fracture:
Treatment largely depends on size, location and symptoms of the crack. Extraction mostly depends on if the crack has reached till the gums or not. The following treatments are mostly recommended by dentists:
Bonding: Filling the crack with a plastic resin, thus restoring the tooth back to its original look.
Crown: A ceramic or porcelain device may be placed over the cracked tooth. With good care, a crown can last a lifetime.
Root canal: If a crack extends into the pulp, your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment. It will prevent the tooth from getting infected further.
When the overall tooth is extremely damaged, removing the tooth is the best option.
Sometimes, as long as the crack does not affect the appearance of a person or produce pain, your dentist may advise you to leave it alone.
In conclusion, while a crack can be repaired, it will never be 100 percent healed. That is why it’s important to maintain good oral health, avoid hard food and wear a mouth guard if you grind your teeth. Also be sure to keep up with all your dental appointments to maintain your pearly whites.
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