Chips, Cracks, and Fractures, Oh My!

Broken teeth in Polk City, IAAlthough many people believe that losing teeth is a natural part of the aging process, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Tooth enamel, which covers each of your teeth, boasts a reputation as the single hardest material in your body, including your bones. Strong, yes, but certainly not invincible, says dentist Dr. Ryan Hussong. Dr. Hussong, who will treat your broken tooth in Polk City, IA, explains that destructive habits, such as grinding your teeth, gnawing on hard objects, or clenching your jaw, can compromise the structure of your tooth, making it more prone to breakage. If you have broken or chipped your tooth, timely treatment is needed to avoid tooth loss, infection, and other serious consequences.

How Will Dr. Hussong Diagnose a Broken Tooth?

Not all fractures cause a substantial break in your tooth, so you may not necessarily be able to see whether a tooth is broken. When you visit our Polk City dental office, Dr. Hussong will perform a visual examination of your teeth. He may also take digital x-rays of your jaw and teeth to determine the extent of damage. Be prepared to answer questions about your oral health, brushing habits, diet, and whether you have experienced any symptoms that could be related.

Does Dr. Hussong Treat All Broken Teeth the Same Way?

Believe it or not, there are several types of breakage that may harm your tooth.

A fractured cusp occurs when a section of the chewing surface of your tooth falls off, usually near a dental filling. This type of fracture does not usually affect the innermost portion of your tooth where the nerves are. As a result, a fractured cusp does not typically cause any discomfort. Dr. Hussong usually protects the area by placing a dental crown over it.

When a crack goes from the outermost surface of your tooth vertically, leading to the root, this is called a cracked tooth. A root canal treatment will address the problem if the crack reaches the pulp, and will help avoid extraction.

When a cracked tooth goes untreated, it progresses to become a split tooth. You will observe a large crack in the tooth that forms distinct segments, each of which can be separated. At this point it is not possible to save the entire tooth intact, although Dr. Hussong may attempt to salvage at least a portion of it. A crack that reaches beyond the gum line cannot be salvaged and will require extraction. If you do not seek treatment in a timely manner, the fracture becomes more severe and will inevitably lead to tooth loss.

A vertical root fracture begins near the root and extends upward toward the outermost chewing surface of your tooth. Because vertical root fractures do not typically produce discomfort or other noticeable symptoms, they may be allowed to progress for lengthy periods. You may not know you have a fracture unless your gums and the surrounding bone develop an infection, usually requiring extraction.

Craze lines are shallow, tiny cracks in the outer enamel of your tooth. These cracks, which are fairly common among adults, do not pose serious structural risks to the tooth and are purely a cosmetic matter.

Don’t let a crack cost you your whole tooth. To learn more about restorative dentistry, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Ryan Hussong, contact Cornerstone Dental Group at (515) 984-6001. Our Ankeny dentist office welcomes patients living in Ames, Alleman, Grimes, Des Moines, and the nearby communities. You can also follow us on Facebook for the latest updates and oral health insights from our practice.