A cracked tooth can range in severity from a minor nuisance to a major concern depending on the location, cause, and severity. While there are a number of different corrective measures your dentist can take in the event that you suspect you have cracked a tooth, it is often difficult to locate precisely which tooth is causing the discomfort and may require more than one trip to see a specialized dentist for treatment. In any case, prevention is the best practice. So here is what you need to know to prevent and cracked tooth and keep you out of the dentist’s chair.

1. Understand the Composition of Your Tooth.

Your tooth is made up of different layers that support the overall function of your teeth. The outermost layer of your teeth is called enamel. This layer is harder than bone and serves to protect your teeth – similar to a helmet. Should you develop a crack in the enamel of one of your teeth, it will leave your tooth vulnerable to more aggressive issues.

2. Maintain the Strength of Your Enamel

There are a variety of different things that can weaken the enamel of your teeth. Acidic and/or sugary beverages and foods, such as soda, can begin to breakdown enamel over time. Likewise, habits such as tooth grinding can significantly weaken the enamel of the teeth. It is important to make your dentist aware of any of these habits to help him identify any major concerns. Likewise, cavities can make the teeth more susceptible to cracking, so it’s important you notify your dentist should you suspect that you have a cavity.

3. Chew Your Food Carefully

You might be surprised to discover that your mouth can exert up to as much as 200 pounds of pressure each time you bite down. With that amount of force, it’s no wonder people often discover that they have cracked teeth and other issues. To avoid causing damage to your teeth, be sure to chew carefully whenever you are eating. Also, avoid biting or chewing on hard, non-food items such as pencils or pens.

4. Pay Attention to Tooth Sensitivity

Woman with tooth sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity could be an indication you’re about to crack a tooth

While many people do experience some mild sensitivity to temperature or even periodic discomfort when they have cracked a tooth, that isn’t true of everyone. It is likely that you could have a small crack and not even realize it. So always pay attention to any sensitivity issues and make sure that you maintain regular hygiene checkups so that your dentist can identify any issues before they become major problems.

5. Notify Your Dentist of Any Concerns

Like with most physical ailments, early intervention increases the chance for effective treatment with the most minimal approach. So it is important that you notify your dentist of any concerns that you have with your teeth and allow him to explore possible treatment options with you. When caught early, there are a variety of different treatment options that might save the original tooth. However, the longer you wait, the fewer options you will have. Ultimately, you might need a dental implant.

A cracked tooth is not uncommon; however, there are a number of things you can do to prevent dealing with the pain of one. Follow these five steps to care for your teeth and do your best to avoid an issue with a cracked tooth.

Recently edited. Originally published: March 28, 2017.