Don’t Crack Up

How to avoid cracking your teeth

Have you ever heard a tooth crack inside your mouth? Unless you’ve chipped or broken a tooth, you may not be familiar with the terrifying sound. But take our word for it; few other things strike more terror than the unnerving snap of a canine, incisor, pre-molar or molar. In this blog post, we examine tooth structure and offer suggestions for avoiding some foods and activities that could introduce you to the unsettling noise and other associated broken-tooth horrors. 

What is a Tooth? 

Four types of tissues produce teeth: pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum. 

  • Pulp
     The innermost portion of the tooth, pulp consists of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, which nourish the tooth. The pulp contains two parts — the pulp chamber, which lies in the crown, and the root canal, at the root of the tooth. Blood vessels and nerves enter the root through a small hole in the tip and extend through the canal into the pulp chamber.
  • Dentin 
    Surrounds the pulp. Dentin is a hard yellow substance. It makes up most of the tooth and is as hard as bone. Dentin gives teeth the yellowish hue that so many people try to override.
  • Enamel
    The hardest tissue in the body, enamel covers the dentin and forms the outermost layer of the crown. It enables teeth the strength to withstand the pressure of chewing. It also protects teeth from harmful bacteria and allows for changes in temperature resulting from hot and cold foods.
  • Cementum
    Covers the outside of the root, under the gum line. Cementum holds the tooth in place inside the jawbone. It is as hard as bone.

Why Good Teeth Go Bad

Despite the strength of human teeth, they respond to abuse in much the same way other parts of the body perform. If you stress them beyond their ability to rebound, they crack under the strain. Here are some of the most common reasons good teeth go bad: 

  • Damage from physical activity
  • Biting down on something that is sticky, hard or brittle
  • Facial trauma following an accident
  • Old, large brittle amalgam fillings
  • Untreated cavities  
  • Using teeth to open packages or pull things. (Your mother told you not to do this. She was right.)

If Your Tooth Cracks, What Should You Do?
Even if you avoid all of the above, your tooth could break. This is how to react if your tooth chips, cracks or fractures.  

  • Rinse your mouth with warm water.
  • Using gauze or a wet teabag, apply pressure to areas that are bleeding.
  • If the tooth swells, apply an icepack to your cheek.
  • If possible, cover major cracks with temporary dental cement, which is available at most drug stores. 
  • If you are in pain, use an over-the-counter pain reliever.
  • If your tooth falls out, put it into a container filled with milk, saliva or saline. Your dentist may be able to reattach it once you arrive at the office. 
  • Book an appointment with Dr. Fred Wong at Blue Ocean Dentistry.
  • In the meantime, avoid brushing or flossing the broken tooth. Come into the office as soon as you can. We will discuss the best method for repairing the break. This could be one or a combination of fillings, crowns and/or a root canal. 

Chip Off the Old Tooth

In the case of a chipped tooth, Dr. Wong may be able to file it. If the chip is on one of your prominent teeth, you may consider having it bonded or covering it with a veneer. Dr. Wong will be able to advise you about your options. 

About Dr. Fred Wong of Blue Ocean Dentistry in Glendora, California

Dr. Fred Wong and the staff at Blue Ocean Dentistry use the latest available dental treatments, equipment, and materials – all of which make a marked difference in our patients’ experiences. We are committed to helping our patients achieve optimal dental health. We creatively combine dental science and artistry — which can literally redesign your smile. Since even a subtle change in your smile will help you to project self-confidence and high self-esteem, we love helping you feel good about yourself. We deliver the finest dental care at the most reasonable cost and accept most dental insurance plans as well as CareCredit. For more about the dental treatment plans we offer or to schedule an appointment, call today (626) 852-6999. 

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