What Causes Cracked Teeth?

Anna T.

Some things that cause cracked teeth include tooth injury and tooth decay. People who have cracks in their teeth as a result of cavity fillings and other dental work might have cracked tooth syndrome. People who grind their teeth while they sleep may have a slightly increased risk of cracks appearing in their teeth. Many people believe that their teeth have cracked because of the foods they've eaten in the past, but this is usually not true. Things like hard candy, sticky foods, and ice chewing may contribute to tooth damage over time but are rarely the cause of cracked teeth.

A cross section of a tooth.
A cross section of a tooth.

Injury is the primary cause of cracked teeth. If a person's tooth comes in contact with a hard surface as the result of a fall or some other type of trauma, the tooth is likely to crack or break. This can be a very painful injury, and in most cases a person will want to have a tooth crack corrected by a dentist, particularly if the crack occurred in a front tooth or if the injury interferes with eating.

Chewing on hard candy can crack the teeth.
Chewing on hard candy can crack the teeth.

Tooth decay also contributes to the likelihood of cracked teeth. When the teeth begin to decay, they become weaker overall, which increases the chances that cracks will form. It usually doesn't take much for a crack to form in a tooth that has begun to decay. In many cases, the crack will become worse and worse until all or part of the tooth breaks off. Tooth decay is usually the result of the formation of acids caused by the bacteria in plaque, and good dental hygiene is one of the only ways for person to prevent this problem.

People who have previously had root canals done or have very large fillings in their teeth may also experience cracked teeth. This is because their teeth have been restored, and as a result of this restoration, the structure of their teeth has weakened. Hairline cracks often begin to form toward the bottom of cavity fillings, and over time they may worsen. People who have had extensive dental repair done on their teeth are at increased risk of developing cracked tooth syndrome, which tends to occur when many corrected teeth begin to crack. Symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome include hot and cold sensitivity and pain when biting pressure is released.

Years of teeth grinding can also take a toll on the structure of the teeth, and people who do this may be more at risk for developing cracked teeth than those who do not. The fact that teeth grinding most often occurs at night when a person is asleep makes it hard to stop because he may not realize he is doing it. To prevent cracked teeth caused by teeth grinding, it may be beneficial for a person to wear a protective mouthpiece while asleep.

Teeth grinding may cause cracked teeth.
Teeth grinding may cause cracked teeth.

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