You might think that cracked teeth are relatively rare, but the truth is that they’re very common. Studies have shown that probably about two-thirds of people have a cracked tooth. And, a cracked tooth is the third most common cause of tooth loss, after gum disease and tooth decay.
It’s important to understand how common and destructive tooth cracks are. It helps you understand why it’s important to get regular dental checkups. These checkups allow us to identify cracked teeth earlier, before they become too damaging. Understanding the seriousness of cracked teeth also highlights the importance of TMJ treatment, which can protect your teeth from damaging force.
How Common Are Cracked Teeth?
We don’t know exactly how common cracked teeth are. We have estimates, with probably the best estimate coming from a 2013 report that examined thousands of teeth, looking for cracks. Researchers found that:
- 31.4% of molars had one or more cracks
- 66.1% of people had at least one cracked molar
- 46.2% had multiple cracked molars
- Just 10% experienced symptoms related to their cracked molar
It’s hard to overstate the importance of these numbers. If these figures are accurate, just about a third of all molars have cracks in them. And nearly two-thirds of people have at least one cracked molar, with nearly half of people having more than one!
But most of these people don’t experience any symptoms of a cracked molar. That means that people can have a cracked tooth for a long time and not experience anything that might drive them to see their dentist for treatment. This makes it more likely that the cracks could lead to lost teeth.
Who’s at Risk for Cracked Teeth?
Obviously, if two thirds of individuals have at least one cracked tooth, most people are at risk for a cracked tooth. But there are some things that are going to put you at greater risk.
Metal amalgam fillings can crack your teeth. They expand when exposed to hot temperature foods, pushing on your enamel, which can lead to cracks.
Of course, rapid temperature changes can also lead to cracks. If you’re the kind of person who likes to have a cold beer with hot pizza, you might be putting your teeth at risk for cracks.
Acidic foods and drinks can also put your teeth at risk. They think the enamel, which weakens it and makes it more likely to crack.
People with bite problems like TMJ or who clench or grind their teeth are also more likely to crack their teeth. These can cause you to put excessive force on some teeth, making them more likely to crack.
Treating Cracked Teeth
Restorative dentistry offers many treatment options that can stop cracks in teeth. For small tooth cracks, we might recommend a wait-and-see approach, usually with changes to your eating and/or hygiene habits.
If we find that you have bite problems, we will treat them to eliminate excessive force on your teeth. Treatment may include muscle relaxation with TENS (transcutaneous electric nerve stimulation), a kind of gentle electronic massage, a bite splint, or reconstructive dentistry.
If your tooth has a serious crack in it, we may recommend a dental crown to repair and support the tooth. If the pulp of the tooth was exposed, we may recommend root canal therapy before the crown is placed.
However, some cracked teeth can’t be saved. Instead, we may have to extract the tooth and replace it, typically with a dental implant.
Get Checked for Cracked Teeth
If it’s been a long time since your last checkup, you may have cracked teeth that have not been diagnosed. These teeth may be worsening, which can make it more likely that they can’t be repaired.
If you want to save your teeth, then it’s important to get regular dental checkups. In the Detroit area, please call (248) 656-2020 today for an appointment with a dentist at Doolin Haddad Advanced Dentistry in Rochester, MI.