Considering how strong our teeth are, it can be surprising to think that they can crack — sometimes unexpectedly.
Maybe it’s something you’re eating, or maybe it’s a clumsy trip or fall.
The fact is, many things can cause you to crack your teeth. And if you’re not careful, a cracked tooth can lead to some pretty undesirable consequences.
An untreated cracked tooth can cause irritation to the pulp of your tooth (the interior of your tooth, where all the nerves and connective tissue live). This can cause inflammation, infection and possibly a root canal. Not to mention, lots of pain.
Avoiding a cracked tooth can be easy if you consider and try to avoid some of the following causes:
Perhaps the most unsurprising on this list, sports are a major culprit for causing cracked and chipped teeth. Of all sports-related dental injuries, chipped or cracked teeth are the most common.
Yes, full-contact sports like football or rugby make it easy for such injuries to occur, but even athletes of non-contact sports are at risk. A fall on the tennis court or even bowling alley could lead to a fractured tooth.
For the best protection, get one fitted and molded to your jaw. Ask your dentist how you can get a custom-made mouthguard.
2. Chewing on Hard Items
Yes, sometimes the popcorn kernels are the best salty treatment at the bottom of the bag, but they’re not so welcomed by your teeth. Chewing on hard food items can chip or crack your teeth. Some examples include:
- Popcorn kernels
- Shelled nuts
- Hard candy
- Pits (olives, fruit, avocado, etc.)
- Frozen foods
- Bones (think chicken wings and steak, etc.)
- Caramel and other chewy candy
- Crunchy bread or crackers
How to prevent it: If you can, avoid chewing on these hard food items. Be careful when eating fruits and vegetables containing pits, and consider going boneless the next time you order chicken wings.
Always try to chew evenly in your mouth. If some teeth are consistently used more than others, they may become more vulnerable to cracking and chipping.
3. Using Your Teeth as Tools
A scissor or knife isn’t always handy when you need to open packaging. The usual next go-to tool? Your teeth.
Using your teeth as a means of opening packaging isn’t recommended, and it can cause you to chip or crack a tooth.
How to prevent it: Just don’t do it. If scissors or a knife are both unavailable, be resourceful and use something else sharp. Try your keys, a pencil or pen — or ask someone with bigger muscles or sharper nails for help!
4. Grinding or Clenching Your Teeth
Teeth grinding and clenching can happen both during the day and at night, so it can be hard to tell if this is even a problem for you.
For those who do grind or clench their teeth, this wears away at the enamel over time. Eventually, the teeth become so weak that they are more susceptible to fracturing.
How to prevent it: One of the biggest causes for teeth grinding and clenching is stress. Alleviate stress in your life, both at home and at work, to help end this bad habit.
5. Tongue Piercings
Your tongue piercing looks awesome, but your teeth might not agree. If you have a tongue ring made of hard material, such as metal or gold, the ring can bang against your teeth. Sometimes it can cause the teeth to chip or crack.
How to prevent it: If you’re unwilling to part with your tongue piercing, opt for a softer tongue ring. There are plenty of silicone tongue rings available, and these won’t damage the teeth like a harder substance.
Accidents happen. Someone might bang into your arm as you’re taking a drink from a glass, you might walk into your super-clean glass sliding door, or your pup may be so excited to greet you that he knocks into your teeth.
How to prevent it: It’s really hard to prevent these unfortunate accidents. Just be aware of your surroundings and do your best to decrease the chances of these incidents occurring.
As we get older, our teeth grow weaker. The dentin — found inside your teeth, behind the enamel — becomes brittle with age. When teeth are brittle, they become weaker and are more likely to chip or crack.
How to prevent it: While there’s no magic time machine you can jump into, there are ways you can reduce your risk of chipping or cracking a tooth as you get older.
Take good care of your teeth, starting now, and maintain those good habits throughout the years. This will help your teeth stay stronger and healthier.
8. Ignoring Dental Problems
Untreated tooth decay, cavities and other dental problems place stress on and wear down your teeth. When this persists, your teeth become weaker and weaker. Weaker teeth are more likely to break.
How to prevent it: Go to the dentist if you suspect you have a cavity or some other serious dental problem. They will tell you the right course of action and help prevent the issue from worsening.
Mercury fillings, or amalgam fillings, have also found to inflict damage on teeth, sometimes causing them to chip or crack. During a study, one dentist stated that almost every mercury filling he removes has harmed the teeth structurally.
The mercury isn’t bonded to the tooth, exposing it and causing it to weaken. As you chew, you place extra stress on the tooth. After a while, this may cause the tooth to break.
How to prevent it: Silver fillings, more formally known as dental amalgam restorations, can replace your existing mercury fillings. Contact your dentist to inquire about the possibilities.
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