Cracked Tooth vs.Chipped Tooth, Causes and Treatments

chipped toothEveryone loves having a good smile. We show our smile to people all the time, and we want to be proud of it. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry conducted a survey, uncovering that 99.7% of adults in the United States believe that is is socially important to have a healthy smile.

Unfortunately, we do things to our teeth every day that can be harmful. One very common dental accident that affects the appearance of a smile is having a cracked or chipped tooth. To help us tell the difference, let’s look at symptoms, causes, and treatments of this type of damaged tooth.

Chipped Tooth
If you chip your tooth, it is possible not to experience a toothache at all. However, you may experience pain if the chip is large enough to expose the inner layer of the tooth where the nerves live. A chip typically starts on the end or outside of the tooth and works its way in.

Fixing a chipped tooth depends on the size of the chip. If the chip is small, your local dentist might just smooth and polish over the chip. If it’s too big for that quick fix, dental crowns, fillings, or caps may be required to restore function and appearance to the damaged tooth. If the chip is large enough, a root canal may be the only solution.

Cracked Tooth
As opposed to a chip, a cracked tooth typically starts close to the gums and affects the enamel of the tooth. It also can damage the entire tooth down to the root. Pain is more obvious with a crack. It can be noticed when you chew with the damaged tooth or the temperature of your mouth is suddenly hot or cold.

If the crack is small enough, it is possible that no treatment is needed. Tooth bonding is used when the crack is small enough to be repaired. A resin is placed in the crack to help hold the tooth together. A tooth splint is used when the crack cannot be mended by bonding. The dentist bonds the damaged tooth with a neighboring tooth to stabilize it. Finally, a root canal will be used if the crack has damaged the tooth pulp. A crown or cap will then be placed over the tooth.

Common Causes of both Cracks and Chips
A cracked tooth and a chipped tooth have very similar causes. Untreated cavities and poor hygiene can weaken the teeth and make them more vulnerable to damage. Biting down on something hard or hitting the teeth on something hard like in a sports accident are also very common reasons that teeth get damaged.

If you have cracked or chipped your tooth, visit a dentist for immediate attention and care.