Cracked & Chipped Tooth Repair

Grand Rapids, MI




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As we age, our teeth can begin to have little lines or cracks on the surface. Although these may seem concerning, oftentimes they are simply what we call “craze lines.” These craze lines are in fact cracks in the tooth enamel, generally limited to the superficial outer layer of the tooth, that develop over time with normal wear and tear. Craze lines are not serious as long as they do not penetrate to the inner surface of the tooth called dentin.

We do get patients, however, who come in and are concerned that they have a cracked tooth that may require treatment. So if you look closely at your teeth in a mirror and notice tiny, vertical lines…don’t fret! A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t feel pain or have any symptoms, your tooth probably does not need treatment.

If you have a cracked tooth in Grand Rapids, you may notice sensitivity or pain when biting and chewing food. In more severe cases, it will hurt consistently, especially around the gums if the tooth segment is loose. There are various types of cracked teeth, and depending on how deep the damage goes, we will suggest certain treatment options based on your situation. Treatment can be as simple as a crown, but in more extreme cases removing the tooth completely.

It is also important to note that a cracked tooth is different from a chipped tooth. Dentists and hygienists can detect a chip in a tooth by using a dental tool called an “explorer” when examining the teeth. You may also detect a chip by feeling a rough surface on the tooth with their tongue. If the explorer can’t find a chip, then the damage is superficial and it won’t need treatment.

Chipped or Cracked Tooth Causes

The possible causes of a chipped or cracked tooth include:

  • Cavities: Cavities that can weaken the teeth and predispose you to a chipped tooth
  • Bad Bite: Biting down on something hard, such as an ice cube, a piece of hard candy, or a bone.
  • Hard Hit: Trauma to the face or mouth, such as being hit in the face with a ball while playing sports.
  • Poor Hygiene: Poor oral care can make you vulnerable to a chipped or cracked tooth, especially if your tooth enamel is already damaged or thinning.
  • Bruxism: Excessive teeth grinding, called bruxism, can cause a chipped or cracked tooth or cracked teeth.

Chipped Tooth Treatments

  • Small Chip: If the chip in your tooth is very small, your dental professional might simply smooth and polish the chipped tooth, and no additional treatment will be needed.
  • Medium Chip: If your chipped tooth involves minor damage to the tooth enamel, your dental professional will probably place a filling, crown, or cap over the chipped tooth to restore its normal appearance and function and to protect the inner layers of the teeth from irritation and infection.
  • Large Chip: If your chipped tooth is large enough to expose the tooth nerve, you will likely need a root canal to remove the damaged nerve, plus a crown or cap to replace the chipped tooth.
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