If you experience a chipped or cracked tooth, you might think that the only repair necessary is of that tooth, probably with a dental crown.
But the truth of the matter is that one fractured tooth might be a warning sign of things to come, and a good reason to recommend a full mouth reconstruction.
Why Teeth Fracture
Let’s consider one common case we see a lot: when one fractured tooth doesn’t require the repair of one tooth, but the entire bite.
Our teeth are tough. Truly, amazingly so. They are capable of standing up to all our bite force, whether it’s due to regular chewing or standard clenching of your teeth.
There are two reasons why teeth are able to take the punishment day in and day out. The first is that our teeth are designed to flex. Although the outer enamel is hard, the interior is made of a softer, more flexible material known as dentin. When subjected to pressure, the interior of the tooth flexes, and the enamel develops microcracks that – at first — don’t really weaken it.
The other reason why teeth stand up to the chewing forces is that they all work together. Our teeth are supposed to fit together so that forces are distributed, not exactly evenly, but according to their ability to support them. The larger back teeth should get significantly more force than the smaller front teeth. This two part system ensures that our teeth don’t just break.
So what is going on when one of your teeth spontaneously cracks? It wasn’t hit with anything, didn’t bite on anything too hard, you just bit into food, were chewing food, or clenching your teeth. And suddenly one broke.
This means that one of the two systems failed. In some cases, it’s the first system. The tooth has been too weakened by decay, restorations, or erosion to stand up to the forces of biting and chewing.
In some cases, the second system failed. Bite forces weren’t distributed equitably, and one or more teeth were subjected to more force than they could handle.
But in both cases, it’s possible a full mouth reconstruction might be necessary.
Teeth Don’t Decay in Isolation
It’s important to remember that your badly decayed or worn tooth was not alone in your mouth. Instead, the same conditions that caused this one tooth to fail are likely found throughout your mouth. And although slight variation may cause one tooth to fail first, there are probably several others that are on the brink of failing. We can identify these teeth and will recognize that they be treated before they fail, because a broken tooth always poses the risk of infection.
You can often identify this problem because your teeth may show visible signs, and you may have habits that can contribute to tooth decay, such as frequent consumption of sweets, acidic beverages, or other damaging foods.
Identifying Bite Problems
People are familiar with cavities, but you’re probably less familiar with bite problems. Bite problems, also known as malocclusion, occur when your teeth come together in such a way that your teeth, joints, muscles, and/or nerves are are subjected to excessive or irregular forces.
Probably the most familiar label given to bite problems is TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorders), but that is far from the only description of them.
Some of the warning signs that you might have bite problems include:
- Multiple cracked teeth
- Teeth that are wearing down excessively or unevenly
- Broken restorations on teeth
- Craze lines in teeth
- Cavities at the gum line
- TMJ symptoms
Most of these are self-explanatory. You may not know about craze lines: small, vertical cracks in your teeth that signal your teeth are being stressed. They often become discolored and may not respond to teeth whitening. Often, porcelain veneers are used to conceal them, but the bite forces that created them can also damage veneers.
Don’t Just Fix the Symptoms: Get Healthy
If you have a cracked tooth, you might come in thinking to just get that one tooth fixed. But fixing just that one tooth may leave you open for more broken teeth in the future. If you really want to have a healthy mouth, we might recommend doing what’s necessary to prevent future damage to your health and your smile: a full mouth reconstruction today.