What Causes Cracked Teeth?
There are various ways in which teeth can become cracked or develop cracks. Cracked teeth are a common dental issue that can range from minor, superficial cracks to more severe fractures.
Here are some different ways teeth can become cracked:
- Chewing Hard Foods: Biting down on exceptionally hard foods, such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or hard candies, can cause cracks in teeth.
- Trauma: Accidents, falls, or injuries to the face and mouth can lead to cracked teeth. This may occur during sports activities, car accidents, or other traumatic incidents.
- Teeth Grinding (Bruxism): Chronic teeth grinding, often caused by stress or misaligned teeth, can result in cracked teeth over time. The constant pressure and friction can weaken the enamel and lead to cracks.
- Temperature Changes: Rapid changes in temperature, such as consuming extremely hot food or beverages followed by cold items (thermal stress), can cause teeth to expand and contract, potentially leading to cracks.
- Biting Non-Food Objects: Some people have habits like chewing on pens, pencils, or fingernails, which can subject teeth to excessive forces and cause cracks.
- Age and Wear: As teeth naturally age and wear down, they become more susceptible to developing cracks. This is more common in older adults.
- Previous Dental Work: Teeth with large fillings or those that have undergone multiple dental procedures may be more prone to cracking.
- Clenching or Jaw Misalignment: Persistent clenching of the jaw or having a misaligned bite can create excessive pressure on certain teeth, potentially leading to cracks.
- Natural Tooth Structure: Some individuals may have tooth enamel that is inherently weaker or more prone to cracks.
- Unknown Causes: In some cases, teeth may develop cracks without a clear, identifiable cause.
The severity of a cracked tooth can vary widely, ranging from minor surface cracks that don’t require treatment to deep fractures that may necessitate dental intervention, such as a crown, root canal, or extraction. If you suspect you have a cracked tooth or experience any tooth pain or sensitivity, it’s crucial to consult with a dentist for a proper evaluation and appropriate treatment recommendations. Early detection and treatment can help prevent further damage and discomfort.
How to Prevent Cracked Teeth
While it’s not always possible to prevent cracked teeth entirely, there are several measures you can take to reduce the risk of experiencing cracked teeth:
- Protective Gear: If you engage in contact sports or activities that pose a risk of dental injury, wearing a mouthguard is essential. Custom-fitted mouthguards provided by a dentist offer the best protection.
- Avoid Chewing on Hard Objects: Refrain from chewing on ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, pens, pencils, or other hard objects that can potentially damage your teeth.
- Limit Hard or Sticky Foods: Be cautious when consuming extremely hard foods like hard candies, and avoid chewy, sticky foods that can pull on your teeth.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Maintain regular dental check-ups and cleanings to ensure any potential issues, such as weakened enamel or large fillings, are addressed promptly.
- Address Bruxism: If you grind your teeth at night (bruxism), consider using a nightguard or occlusal splint. These devices help protect your teeth from the excessive forces associated with grinding.
- Manage Stress: Since stress can contribute to bruxism, finding healthy ways to manage stress, such as relaxation techniques or exercise, can be beneficial for your oral health.
- Maintain Good Nutrition: A balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly calcium and vitamin D, can promote strong teeth and reduce the risk of enamel weakening.
- Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes: Be cautious when consuming very hot or very cold foods and beverages, as rapid temperature changes can stress your teeth.
- Practice Safe Dental Habits: Avoid using your teeth for tasks other than chewing food. Opening bottles, tearing packages, or biting nails can increase the risk of tooth fractures.
- Wear a Bite Guard: If you have a misaligned bite or clench your jaw, your dentist may recommend a bite guard to help distribute forces evenly and reduce the risk of cracking.
- Regular Dental Check-ups: Routine dental visits allow your dentist to identify early signs of tooth damage and provide preventive measures or treatment.
While these measures can reduce the risk of cracked teeth, accidents can still occur. If you suspect you have a cracked tooth or experience any tooth pain or sensitivity, it’s essential to seek prompt evaluation and treatment from a dentist. Early intervention can prevent the problem from worsening and ensure the best possible outcome for your oral health.
Who can Benefit from a Mouth Guard?
Mouthguards are essential for protecting your smile and are suitable for individuals of all ages, including children and adults. With many kids returning to school and participating in various sports like basketball, soccer, football, volleyball, gymnastics, and more, it’s crucial to recognize the significance of mouthguards.
Even if you or your child engage in recreational activities such as skateboarding or hiking, mouthguards offer a valuable layer of protection to reduce the risk of oral injuries and possibly prevent cracked teeth.
Moreover, mouthguards are commonly used by adults and children who experience Bruxism, a condition characterized by teeth grinding at night. At GPS Dental, we specialize in creating custom-fitted mouthguards that are not only comfortable but also perfectly tailored to fit your mouth. These mouthguards effectively safeguard your teeth during sleep, preventing damage caused by teeth grinding, and ensuring a restful night’s sleep.
Not All Mouthguards are the Same
Mouthguards are dental devices designed to protect the teeth and mouth from injury during physical activities or to address specific dental issues.
Here are some key points about mouthguards:
- Types of Mouthguards: There are several types of mouthguards, including:
- Sports Mouthguards: These are commonly used by athletes to protect their teeth and mouth during contact sports or activities with a risk of dental injury.
- Night Guards: Night guards, also known as occlusal splints, are used to manage bruxism (teeth grinding) by creating a barrier between the upper and lower teeth.
- TMJ Mouthguards: Some mouthguards are designed to alleviate symptoms of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders by stabilizing the jaw joint.
- Custom vs. Over-the-Counter (OTC): Custom-fitted mouthguards are typically fabricated by dentists to provide the best fit and protection. Over-the-counter mouthguards are available at stores, but they may not offer the same level of customization and comfort.
- Protection: Mouthguards cushion the teeth and mouth, reducing the risk of dental injuries such as broken or cracked teeth, knocked-out teeth, and soft tissue injuries.
- Usage: Mouthguards are commonly used in sports like football, hockey, and boxing, where there is a high risk of oral injury. They are also utilized by people who grind their teeth at night (bruxism) to protect their teeth from damage.
- Maintenance: Mouthguards should be cleaned regularly with mild soap and water. It’s essential to store them in a well-ventilated case to prevent bacterial growth. Custom mouthguards may require occasional adjustments by a dentist to ensure a proper fit.
- Replacement: Over time, mouthguards can wear out or become less effective. It’s recommended to replace them when they show signs of wear or if they no longer fit properly.
- Dental Consultation: If you need a mouthguard, it’s advisable to consult with your dentist. They can assess your specific needs, take impressions for custom mouthguards, and provide guidance on proper use and care.
Advancements in dental care and materials lead to new developments in mouthguard technology and options. It’s a good idea to consult with your dentist for the most up-to-date information and recommendations regarding mouthguards.
Custom Mouthguards aren’t just for Sports
While the term ‘custom mouthguard’ often brings to mind protection during sports, it’s important to recognize that not all mouthguards serve the same purpose. The Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD), as we fondly refer to it, is a unique nighttime mouthguard.
Unlike sports mouthguards, the MAD is designed to fit snugly over both your upper and lower jaws. Its primary goal is to gently pull forward and reposition your jaw, creating an unobstructed airway. This repositioning can significantly reduce snoring and greatly enhance your breathing while you sleep.
The Benefits of Mouth Guards
Mouthguards protect your smile, whether you’re an athlete or grind your teeth while you sleep!
- When we play sports. Mouthguards are great athletic gear, especially for collision sports such as boxing, higher-risk sports, and non-contact activities.
- When we’re sleeping. If you’re experiencing sleep apnea or breathing problems when sleeping, mouthguards can help. Research shows that oral appliance therapy, or a mouth guard, is an effective treatment option for sleep apnea and snoring. This mouth guard is worn only while you sleep and fits like an orthodontic retainer. These oral appliances support your jaw, to help maintain an open upper airway even as your muscles relax.
- When we’re stressed and/or clench our teeth. When we’re dealing with stress, we can unconsciously clench our jaws and teeth during the day and during the night. With the additional stress that has come with a year and a half COVID-19, many dentists are seeing their patients break their teeth or crowns from clenching. Mouthguards provide a great way to prevent cracked teeth!
Does Stress Impact Oral Health?
Certainly, stress can have a significant impact on oral health. Addressing these issues is essential to maintaining a healthy mouth. Here’s an outline of the six main ways stress can affect oral health:
- Gum Disease: Chronic stress can weaken the immune system, making it more challenging for the body to fight off infections, including gum disease. Stress can also lead to changes in oral hygiene habits, which can further contribute to gum problems.
- Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Stress and anxiety are common triggers for teeth grinding and clenching, which can lead to tooth damage, jaw pain, and headaches.
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ): Stress-related clenching and grinding can strain the temporomandibular joint, potentially leading to TMJ disorder, characterized by jaw pain, difficulty in opening or closing the mouth, and clicking or popping sounds in the jaw.
- Dry Mouth: Stress can cause dry mouth, reducing saliva production. Saliva is essential for maintaining oral health as it helps neutralize acids, wash away food particles, and fight bacteria.
- Canker Sores: Stress may increase the likelihood of developing painful canker sores in the mouth.
- Neglecting Oral Hygiene: During times of stress, individuals may neglect their oral hygiene routine, including brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups, which can lead to various dental problems.
We feel it’s important to raise awareness about these connections between stress and oral health and encourage individuals to manage stress effectively through relaxation techniques, exercise, and seeking support when needed. Additionally, maintaining consistent oral hygiene practices and seeking dental care for stress-related oral issues are essential steps to prevent cracked teeth and preserve oral health during stressful times.
Related Article: Stressed Out Oral Health: Gum Disease, Clenching and Grinding
Do You Grind Your Teeth?
One common consequence of stress is teeth grinding, a condition known as bruxism. Stress can cause us to clench our jaws and grind our teeth during the day and even at night. For individuals already struggling with teeth grinding, stress can exacerbate the problem, making it even more challenging to handle and even more difficult to prevent cracked teeth.
Untreated bruxism can lead to serious issues like loosening teeth and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which results in pain and discomfort in the jaw. To address this, consider discussing night guard options with us to effectively put a stop to teeth grinding while you sleep.
During the day, it’s essential to be mindful of any jaw clenching and make an effort to relax your jaw when possible. Try to keep your teeth slightly apart when you’re not actively chewing or eating. These simple strategies can help mitigate the effects of stress-induced teeth grinding and promote better oral health.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea, while a relatively new term for many, is a common sleep disorder that affects individuals worldwide. This chronic condition is often characterized by loud and disruptive snoring. It occurs when a person experiences shallow or frequent pauses in their breathing during a typical night’s sleep.
While initially, it may seem like a mere nuisance and potentially an issue for sleeping partners, sleep apnea can be a significant health concern. It carries the potential to increase the risk of various health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, complications during pregnancy, and a range of other issues.
Recognizing the signs of sleep apnea and seeking appropriate diagnosis and treatment is essential to mitigate its potential health consequences and improve overall well-being.
Learn more about Sleep Apnea
GPS Dental Can Help You Prevent Cracked Teeth
Dr. Skrobanek and his team at GPS Dental can play a crucial role in helping you prevent cracked teeth by crafting a custom mouthguard or oral appliance designed for nighttime use. These devices not only protect your teeth but also have a positive impact on your dental and mental health. There’s a strong connection between dental health and mental well-being, and fortunately, mouthguards provide an effective solution. They not only safeguard your teeth but can also assist in managing issues like sleep apnea and snoring.
Each mouthguard is meticulously custom-made by Dr. Skrobanek to ensure a comfortable fit that keeps your teeth separated, preventing them from grinding together. This personalized approach ensures that you get the maximum benefit from your mouthguard while promoting your overall oral health and quality of sleep.
Schedule Your Appointment Today
While the CPAP machine remains the most effective treatment for advanced cases of sleep apnea, such as complex sleep apnea, it’s crucial to acknowledge that it might not be the right solution for everyone. If the CPAP machine doesn’t work for you, it might be time to consider a Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD).
At GPS Dental, Dr. Skrobanek can provide you with a customized MAD appliance. This custom mouthguard is designed to be both durable and comfortable for use during sleep. Importantly, many insurance plans typically cover the cost of this treatment, making it a viable and accessible option for addressing sleep apnea and it just might help you prevent cracked teeth.
Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek’s experienced and friendly team at GPS Dental offers affordable dental care for all ages in San Antonio, TX area. Our Brooks City Base dentist office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we promote dental health awareness to our patients and provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at 210-633-3477 to make an appointment.