Cracked teeth are typically caused by one of three things: an injury, undue pressure from grinding or clenching over a long period of time, or the breakdown of prior fillings that may break down and leak. In some cases, a cracked tooth may eventually split into two pieces, making it impossible to save the tooth. In many cases, a cracked tooth can be saved by your endodontist with a filling or a crown. Left untreated, cracked teeth can also lead to damage to the soft inner tissue, or pulp, of your tooth. When the inner pulp becomes damaged or diseased, a root canal is typically the only way to save the tooth from extraction.
Here are some general prevention tips:
- Avoid chewing or biting down on hard things such as ice, candy, pens and pencils, or popcorn kernels.
- Avoid grinding your teeth of clenching your jaw. (Special mouth appliances are available to mitigate this problem if you can't stop on your own.)
- Don't ignore mild or occasional pain in your tooth, because pain almost always is a sign that something is wrong. Keep in mind that pain from a cracked tooth is deceptive; it usually is not severe in nature and may be mistaken for something else such as chewing or exposing your tooth to something cold or hot.
- Wear mouth guards when participating in sports, especially contact sports.