Too many are familiar with feeling an unpleasant crunch and looking in the mirror to find a tooth with a fine crack or missing chip. A cracked or chipped tooth is often painful and can lead to damage if left untreated, but these minor injuries are very common. At early stages, cracks and chips are easily repaired by a dentist. You can also avoid this medical and cosmetic issue altogether if you take the right precautions. Your teeth are naturally more prone to cracks as you age, but certain behaviors can cause injury at any stage of life. Here are some of the factors that cause a cracked tooth:
- Using teeth as tools. When it comes to opening that tricky plastic bag or bottle, it’s best to leave the task to a pair of scissors or a bottle opener. Teeth are strong, but using them to break down anything besides food can cause damage. This behavior can wear down the surface of your teeth, create jaw pain, and result in cracks or chips.
- Eating hard things. Though teeth are designed to break down food, some foods put unnecessary stress on them. Hard candies, for instance, can damage your teeth if you try to chew them right away. Chewing ice is also a major culprit of cracked teeth. Since ice is both hard and cold, chewing it puts additional stress on your teeth and increases the chance of damage.
- Grinding your teeth (bruxism). If you notice yourself grinding your teeth during the day, practice relaxing your jaw and taking measures to reduce your stress. Often, grinding your teeth is the result of stress and can be a conscious or subconscious behavior. Bruxism at night is best treated by a night guard, a device that fits over your teeth like a thick retainer. See your dentist to be fitted for a night guard.
- Participating in contact sports. There’s always a risk of injury when participating in intense physical activities, but you can prevent dental damage by wearing a mouthguard. If you participate in or are planning to participate in a contact sport such as lacrosse, hockey, football, or wrestling, consider visiting your dentist first for a custom mouthguard.
If you notice a cracked or chipped tooth, contact your dentist as soon as possible to have it fixed. Leaving a damaged tooth alone can lead to further complications, including tooth loss. However, being aware of the risk factors listed above can help you avoid injury and protect your smile.
Looking for a dentist near Cary, North Carolina? Please call us at 919.460.9665 and we will be happy to set up an appointment with you.