You take great care of your teeth, and yet there's something wrong with one of your front central incisors, and you can't quite work out what it is. You can't see any problem, and there doesn't appear to be a cavity. Yet the tooth has suddenly become extremely sensitive, and you've begun to experience discomfort with food and drinks that are especially hot or cold. You need to consider the possibility that your front tooth might have a miniscule hairline crack.
What Can Cause a Hairline Crack in a Front Tooth?
There could be a number of causes. Perhaps you unknowingly grind your teeth in your sleep. Ask your dentist if your other teeth display evidence of this, and wearing an overnight mouthguard might be wise. You could have attempted to open something with your teeth (always a bad idea), which has resulted in the crack.
How Is a Hairline Crack Identified?
Your dentist might conclude that there's a hairline crack in a front tooth when no other source of your discomfort is present. The enamel covering the tooth might be perfectly intact, there might be no obvious signs of decay, and the only indication that something is amiss is your discomfort, which is only going to be intermittent and triggered by certain types of food and drink. A hairline crack will not always be detected with a visual inspection or even an x-ray, and your dentist might opt to perform a radiograph to make a thorough diagnosis.
How Dangerous Is an Untreated Hairline Crack?
Teeth are unable to repair themselves, and with impeccable dental care, a hairline crack might not worsen for years to come, if you're extremely lucky. But it will happen. The tooth has been damaged and will slowly continue to degrade, essentially turning a minor problem into a major one. If untreated, the tooth will continue its decline, meaning that your ultimate solution might need to be a root canal and dental crown. In extreme cases, the tooth might even need to be removed and replaced with a partial denture or dental implant.
How Is a Hairline Crack Treated?
If the crack is identified early enough (which is why it's crucial to get to your dentist as soon as you suspect there might be a problem), then it's likely that only dental bonding will be needed. This falls under general dentistry services and simply requires your dentist to apply a thin layer of dental cement over the crack in order to seal it. Bonding is all that is usually needed for hairline cracks in front teeth. Although these teeth are used to grip and tear food, they're not used for chewing as your molars are, meaning they're not load-bearing teeth.
A hairline crack in your front tooth can generally be patched quickly and easily, but the onus is on you to have it examined before it has the chance to grow into something more threatening.
For more information, contact a general dentistry service in your area.