If you have a cracked tooth, you might regard it as an isolated emergency that needs to be fixed with a single dental crown
. But the actual cause of your cracked tooth may not be that tooth itself, it might be your bite.
Imbalanced Bite and Fractured Teeth
Our teeth are designed to stand up to the forces we subject them to. Whether chewing or gritting your teeth to help anchor your jaw to stabilize your core, your teeth should be up to the task. And if they’re not, they’re designed to flex and bend inside, which can create small cracks, but shouldn’t allow the tooth to actually fracture. Instead, the tooth is supposed to wear down slowly, maintaining a chewing surface for a lifetime.
So when a tooth actually breaks apart, it’s a sign that something’s wrong. Often, the cause is just extreme trauma, such as a car accident, rough play during contact sports, or physical assault. The traumatic fracture may or may not have been preceded by excessive force on the tooth in question, but there is usually a clear cause.
On the other hand, if your tooth fractures and breaks while biting into food or just while clenching your teeth, it’s definitely a sign that your bite is the problem.
Your teeth are set up to work together. Bite forces are distributed among all the teeth so that the larger, stronger teeth take more of the load, but all the teeth take their share. No tooth should be given more force than it can handle. In an imbalanced bite, however, some teeth are subjected to excessive forces. These forces can cause your teeth to fracture and break apart.
How to Know if Your Bite Is the Problem
So how do you know when your cracked tooth is related to bite problems that require a full mouth reconstruction? The only way to know for sure is to consult with a neuromuscular dentist like Dr. Kent E. White, who uses a scientific neuromuscular exam to determine whether the balance of forces in your bite is healthy or destructive.
However, there are some things you can look for on your own, such as:
- Repeated cracking of teeth
- Broken or failing restorations
- Craze lines in teeth
- Excessive tooth wear
- Cavities at the gum line
- TMJ symptoms like jaw soreness, headaches, or ringing in the ears
If this is not your first cracked tooth, you have to consider that it’s your bite and not your teeth that’s the problem. This is especially true if restorations placed over a cracked tooth also crack. Modern dental ceramics are very durable and should not crack under normal biting and chewing forces.
Another clear sign of excessive bite force are craze lines: small vertical fractures that aren’t a health problem, but can be unattractive because they collect stains–and teeth whitening might just make them stand out more. If your teeth are wearing down faster than they should, the problem is likely excessive bite force.
A surprising symptom excessive bite force is cavities that develop at your gum line. Remember that we mentioned your teeth are designed to flex? Not all parts of your tooth are equally flexible. The dentin inside the tooth is highly flexible, but the hard enamel on the outside is less so. This disparity is especially apparent where the enamel is thinnest, at the neck of the tooth, which is at your gum line. As your teeth flex, the thin enamel can break and flake off, forming a harborage for bacteria, which then cause further damage with their acidic excretions.
TMJ symptoms are too numerous and complex to be dealt with here. Consult our TMJ information to learn more.
Don’t Just Fix the Symptoms: Get a Healthy Bite
If you are experiencing cracked teeth because of a bad bite, it is likely just the beginning of your troubles. If you are looking to prevent future cracked teeth in Nashville, then you need to consult neuromuscular dentist Dr. White. Please call (615) 383-6787 for an appointment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.