Hairline Tooth Fractures (Cracks): Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment
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Table of Contents
- What are Hairline Fractures?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Having a hairline tooth fracture can be a serious ordeal, especially when the condition is severe. Various factors such as age can cause tooth fractures.
It might take some time for symptoms to show, but it is impossible to miss them when they do. Your front teeth and at the back of the lower jaw are the most common locations for cracks. But fear not: your teeth should go back to normal after treatment.
Cracked tooth syndrome primarily affects adults between ages 30-50, with a 31-74 percent incidence rate. See an endodontist as soon as symptoms start to show.
What Are Hairline Fractures?
Also known as cracked tooth syndrome, hairline fractures present with the appearance of obvious cracks in your teeth. Hairline teeth fractures can be mild to severe. Children and older people are at a higher risk of developing fractured teeth.
Tooth fractures can happen on the crown above the gum or in the roots below the gum. Hairline fractures affect some or all of the layers in the crown and root. They can occur in four ways:
The most significant risk of fractured teeth is growing older. Teeth cracks are common in children and adults 50 years old and older.
Biting into hard things such as candy or popcorn can also cause hairline tooth fractures. Additionally, chewing gum or ice can result in fractured teeth.
If you experience teeth grinding (Bruxism), there is a strong likelihood you will suffer from fractured teeth. Also, heavy impact on teeth from falls, bike accidents, and violence may result in fractured teeth.
Additionally, cavities enhance the possibility of having fractured teeth even when there is minimal trauma.
Symptoms of fractured teeth usually show up when you are biting or chewing. Frequent dental checkups can help reveal signs before they manifest. That said, here are the common symptoms:
- Fleeting pain: You will have a toothache when chewing or biting using cracked teeth.
- Swelling: Swelling occurs in the gum surrounding the affected tooth. It could last a while when an abscess forms in the tooth as well.
- Sensitivity: You will display sensitivity to extreme temperature and products heavy in sugar.
The first step in diagnosing a hairline tooth fracture is to identify the symptoms. You can also diagnose yourself by looking for the signs, but a healthcare provider should have the final say.
They also ask about your dental history to help place the origins of the fracture, which eventually helps with treatment. After that, the dentist will look for broken or avulsed teeth.
Dentists use a stick for patients to bite down on to find pain areas and inspect teeth for crack lines. A gum examination follows to examine the severity of a crack.
Transillumination will show fractures in the teeth. The dentist will then stain the affected tooth with a dye to enhance X-ray imaging. Periodontal probing, which involves checking if the tools can stick in the crack, is the final step in the diagnosis.
X-ray imaging works when the crack is parallel to the beams to allow penetration. Still, there is always vertical bone loss near the visible root if a break has been present long enough. In that case, applying a magnifying glass or bright light along the dye line can help find the crack.
Treatment and How to Repair
You can start treatment for a fractured tooth at home. Urgent care should focus on relieving pain to give you enough time to reach a dentist. Before you get to the dentist, do the following:
- Ice the outside of your mouth to reduce swelling.
- Use a salt and water solution to rinse your mouth. The salt solution is an antiseptic and will treat any wounds while killing microbes.
- Take painkillers and anti-inflammation to reduce pain and swelling
A dental health expert will treat the tooth according to the damage. It is important to gather any available remedies to avoid nerve damage and abscess growth in a cracked tooth.
Dentists treat fractured tooth in several ways. They include:
Can a hairline tooth fracture heal itself?
How do you fix a hairline crack in your teeth?
That can happen in four ways. One is bonding which involves filling the fracture with resin. Similarly, the medical practitioner can perform crowning by adding a cap over the crack.
Alternatively, your dentist can fix it through a root canal, especially if the crack stretches deep to your pulp. However, extraction is the best alternative if the damage is extreme.
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The Obvious and The Obscure: Steps for Crack Detection and Confirmation. (Summer 2008). American Association of Endodontists.
Toothache. (March 2020). Cleveland Clinic.
Cracked tooth syndrome: Overview of literature. (December 2015). International Journal of Applied Basic Medical Research.