Teeth sometimes split down the middle from an injury or from chewing. It's a more serious type of fracture than a chip or crack in the corner of the tooth since it exposes the pulp and root underneath the enamel to the bacteria in your mouth — it raises your risk of a severe tooth infection. A split tooth doesn't always cause pain or increased sensitivity, but it still needs to be treated as soon as possible by a dentist due to the infection risk. If you have a split tooth, you may be wondering if it's possible to repair it. Read on to find out about what causes teeth to split and how to know if it can be saved.
What Causes a Tooth to Split Down the Middle?
While a tooth will sometimes suddenly split down the middle, it's normally caused by an existing crack worsening. You won't always notice when a tooth cracks at the top, since it may not cause pain or increased sensitivity. In addition, you won't be able to easily see the crack while brushing your teeth if it's a back tooth such as a molar.
When a tooth starts to crack in the middle, the two pieces will flex and slide against one another whenever you're chewing. This repeated flexing causes the crack to slowly widen and can eventually result in the tooth completely splitting apart.
Can You Save a Split Tooth?
Whether or not a split tooth can be saved depends on the extent of the damage. The most important component is the depth of the crack. If the crack is limited to above your gumline, then it may be possible for a dentist to save your tooth by placing a crown on it. The crown helps to keep the two split pieces of the tooth together when you're chewing, stopping the crack from worsening.
If the split extends below the gumline, however, then the tooth will most likely need to be extracted. A crown can only stabilize the portion of the tooth above your gums, so the crack below your gumline would slowly widen.
Why Do You Need to Extract a Split Tooth That Can't Be Saved?
The crack in a split tooth exposes the pulp and root inside of your tooth to the bacteria in your mouth, which increases the chance that your tooth will become infected. Once the bacteria have infected the root of your tooth, they can migrate into your gums and your jawbone, causing periodontitis. Periodontitis is a serious oral health problem that can result in tooth loss. Extracting the split tooth will prevent this from happening, helping to spare the rest of your teeth.
If you have a split tooth, schedule an appointment with a dentist in your area. A dentist can use X-ray imaging to determine how deep the split in your tooth goes. Depending on the severity of the crack in your tooth, they'll discuss if saving it by placing a crown on it or extracting it to prevent future dental problems will be your best bet