How to Fix a Cracked Tooth

What’s the best way to repair a cracked tooth? Dr. Steven Kacel, D.D.S., is a cosmetic dentist in Northbrook, Illinois, with all the answers. Having completed his dental training at Northwestern University, he is currently a member of the American Dental Association and the Academy of General Dentistry, among other professional organizations.

There are a couple of ways a tooth can crack, and the way you are treat each crack depends largely on what type of crack it is. For the most part, though, cracks are typically either horizontal or vertical, so that is the main thing we’re looking at.

If a tooth is genuinely cracked, then you need to put a crown on the tooth or a cap — which is the same thing for all intents and purposes. The crown or cap that you put on will sort of act as a vice and hold the tooth together.

If a crack goes vertically up the side or up the middle of the tooth, then frequently we have to remove the nerve from the tooth. The reason for this is because that crack down the middle of the tooth will eventually get into the nerve, and that will cause major problems.

After we have treated the nerve in a situation like that, the next thing we will do is reinforce the tooth that was cracked with a post and core buildup. And then, after that, we will put a cap on it and be done.

Sometimes, though, a crack can be so extensive, or it can go so high up the tooth, that the tooth has to be removed entirely and you just can’t save it. In situations where that is the outcome, we will usually put a dental implant or a bridge into the patient’s mouth. The specifics are different based on the situation, of course, but a bridge or an implant is the most common outcome.

For horizontal cracks, meanwhile, many times when the initial crack happens, a piece of the tooth will actually break off. So a person will be eating or doing something, and suddenly he will say, “Oh look at this.” Oftentimes, he even think it’s a bone, like if he was eating fish, when in fact it is part of his broken off tooth.

Obviously in cases where a part of the tooth actually breaks off, people know they have a cracked or broken tooth. But in other cases, the crack might not be as dramatic. Or, if the crack is a little more bone-oriented, then it won’t necessarily look different initially. But it will hurt when the person tries to chew.

So if you are a person who has just cracked a tooth, you will know it. Whether you know it because you literally saw a chip of the tooth come out of your mouth or because of the pain you are suddenly feeling when you try to eat, a cracked tooth is always something that you will know you have if and when it occurs.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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