There are many reasons why one of your teeth may get cracked. You might bite down on something hard. You might suffer some kind of trauma to the face. You might grind your teeth at night without even knowing it. Whatever the cause, cracked teeth aren’t something you can ignore. In fact, they are a common cause of tooth loss.
Your teeth are covered in a hard outer layer of enamel. When the tooth is cracked, the soft inner layers are exposed, and that potentially includes the vulnerable inner pulp. Plaque and bacteria can quickly invade, so decay and infection are both common complications of cracked teeth.
With that in mind, you should learn the symptoms and visit your dentist as soon as you notice them.
The most obvious symptom of a cracked tooth is pain – it’s also one of the most common. If one of your teeth is cracked, you may experience a relatively intense shooting pain when you bite down. Pain should be particularly intense when you release the bite. This is because chewing will cause the hard tissues of the broken tooth to move against each other, which in turn irritates the pulp. Eventually, the pulp will be so damaged that it is unable to heal itself. When the pulp dies, the tooth will be lost.
Pain is a common symptom of a cracked tooth, but some cracked teeth won’t present such serious discomfort. Instead of pronounced pain, you may experience a sensitivity to heat, cold, or sweetness. It’s that hard outer layer of enamel that prevents sensitivity reaching the pulp. When the tooth is compromised, sensitivity can reach right down where you’ll feel it most.
Swelling is usually one of the last signs of a cracked tooth to appear. It can either mean that the tooth’s hard tissue is irritating the gum when it moves or that the gum or the tooth itself has become infected. In any case, swelling in the mouth should always prompt a trip to see your dentist.