Why Do My Teeth Keep Breaking?
At Whitehorse Dental, we understand how inhibiting brittle, breaking teeth can be on your lifestyle. Frequent dentist visits for fillings and repairs can cost you a lot of time and money. And living with the daily fear of cracking or chipping your teeth can restrict you from eating your favourite foods.
If you have weak teeth that are brittle and break – you don’t have to live with it.
In this article, we explain the main reason why teeth weaken. We also share the long term solutions our dentists can offer you to return your mouth to a happy, healthy state.
Why Do My Teeth Feel Weak?
When your teeth become worn and brittle, they become more vulnerable to chipping and cracking. Your teeth and their surrounding enamel are built tough, but there are several contributing factors to the breakdown of their structure.
Some of the reasons why your teeth may feel weak include:
Poor Oral Care
Your mouth collects a lot of bacteria. Whilst some of these bacteria contribute to the healthy flora of your mouth, some of them can be harmful if left unattended. You can remove most of these bad bacteria by practising good oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist for professional checkups and cleans.
Failure to maintain good oral care can result in the dissolving of your enamel. It can also lead to dental cavities caused by decay. And both the thinning of your enamel and the onset of tooth decay can lead to the weakening of your teeth over time.
Teeth grinding, also known as Bruxism, is very common and directly linked to the weakening of teeth. Some may clench teeth throughout the day, whilst others clench and grind their teeth during their sleep.
This subconscious clenching and grinding places excessive and consistent force on your teeth. Over time, it wears down the layers of your teeth, making them less resistant to any kind of pressure and impact. This increases your likelihood of experiencing tooth breakage.
Unsure if you grind your teeth? Make an appointment with one of our gentle Blackburn dentists. We know all the tell-tale signs of teeth grinding and can recommend the right treatment plan for you.
Gum disease can weaken your teeth by destroying the bone and tissue that support them. When the bone and tissue are destroyed, your teeth become loose and can eventually fall out. In addition, gum disease can cause pockets to form between the gums and teeth, which can allow bacteria to reach the roots of your teeth and cause further damage.
Tooth decay weakens teeth by breaking down the hard outer layer of enamel, which exposes the inner dentin layer. This dentin layer is porous and can become infected, eventually causing the tooth to crack, chip, or even fall out. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to serious oral health issues, such as gum diseases and an increased risk of oral infections.
As it does with most things, age takes its toll on your teeth. As you get older, there is no avoiding your teeth becoming worn down from the many years of use.
Of course, teeth that have been around for longer have also had more exposure to some or all the things that can cause them to weaken. For example, repeated filling procedures, tooth decay and damage from acidic drinks (lemon water, soft drinks, juice, etc).
Overuse of Fillings
Unfortunately, in our industry, we see the overuse of dental fillings to ‘remedy’ damaged teeth. If you find yourself visiting the dentist every year or two for new fillings, this too is leading to the weakening of your teeth.
If your tooth has gone through years of repeat fillings, it will contain more filling material than a natural tooth. The definition of a filling is that it fills a hole in the tooth. Most long-lasting fillings only fill in a small hole in the tooth, so there’s plenty of the original tooth surrounding the filling to provide structural support.
A hole that is bigger than 50% of your tooth leads to your tooth being significantly weakened. The remaining bits of tooth structure supporting the filling become thin and brittle, like an eggshell. A filling, in this case, does nothing to protect the vulnerable, thin outer layers of your tooth. And the larger your filling becomes, the thinner and weaker the rest of your tooth gets.
The Different Types of Broken Teeth
The different types of cracks in teeth include:
1. Craze Lines
Craze lines are tiny cracks that develop on the surface of the teeth. They are often caused by grinding or chewing hard foods and can be seen as thin, white lines on the enamel. While they are typically harmless and may not need treatment, it’s advisable to get them checked by your dentist. You can also opt for cosmetic treatment to cover these cracks such as dental bonding or veneers.
2. Fractured Cusps
Fractured cusp teeth have a fracture in the biting surface. This can occur due to trauma, such as a blow to the face, a broken filling or wear and tear over time. A fractured cusp in a tooth does not generally cause pain but may cause difficulty while eating. Your dentist may recommend a crown to cover the broken tooth and improve aesthetics.
3. Cracked Teeth
A cracked tooth generally has a crack from the tooth surface to the nerve. These types of cracks gradually spread to the pulp and the root. Early detection and treatment are essential in saving cracked teeth. If the crack has spread to the pulp, a root canal may be able to save your existing tooth. If it has spread to the root and beneath the gum line, you may need to get the cracked tooth extracted.
4. Split Teeth
When a vertical crack splits the tooth into two different parts, it’s called a split tooth. A split tooth, in most cases, may have to be extracted, but it may be possible to save a section of the tooth and treat it with a root canal treatment.
5. Vertical Root Fractures
Vertical root fractures start from the tooth root and extend to the bottom. These types of cracks may be painful, causing root inflammation and infection. A root canal or endodontic surgery may be needed to remove the fractured root. If that’s not possible, a tooth extraction may be needed.
Broken Teeth Treatment Options
1. Dental Exam
The first step towards getting treatment for broken teeth is to get a dental examination. This involves a complete oral examination, recording your medical and oral history to formulate a tailored treatment plan.
Your dental X rays will also be taken to assess the extent of the crack and its damage. This is critical in diagnosing treatment plans and helps you understand your treatment options moving forward.
3. Repair Treatment Options
We offer a range of treatment options for broken teeth. The treatment plans depend on your diagnosis and certain factors such as how far the crack extends, whether it’s cosmetic or goes to the root, infection and the condition of your teeth. Some of the treatments for cracked teeth include root canal, fillings, dental bonding, veneers and in worst cases, a tooth extraction.
Tips to Prevent Teeth from Breaking
1. Maintaining Good Oral Hygiene
Good oral hygiene forms the first line of defence against most dental problems. We recommend brushing and flossing twice daily with regular dental checkups and cleaning twice a year. This ensures your teeth are protected from plaque buildup and bacteria which can lead to infections and tooth decay. It also helps maintain tooth enamel and prevents bacteria from entering the inner layer. If your teeth are strong, they won’t crack or weaken.
2. Avoiding Hard or Crunchy Foods
Hard candy and nuts may be yummy but they can crack your teeth, especially if your teeth are worn down due to ageing and usage with the passage of time. Therefore, it’s best to stay away from hard and crunchy foods to prevent teeth cracks.
3. Regular Dental Checkups
While practising good oral hygiene helps maintain your teeth and gums, regular dental checkups are essential for preventing most dental problems. They help nip oral issues in the bud with prevention and early treatment, saving you from extensive dental procedures and protecting your teeth from further damage.
How Do We Treat Breaking Teeth?
At Whitehorse Dental, we don’t make use of the outdated “drill and fill” method for fixing breaking teeth. Sometimes, what these teeth need is strengthening and protection from a different procedure: a crown.
A crown is a bit like a helmet for your tooth. It covers the tooth and protects the insides from fracturing. Dental crowns are great for restoring teeth to their full strength. This allows you to chew with peace of mind, without the worries of breaking off a piece of tooth.
One of the biggest concerns for a dental procedure like a crown is the expense. Crowns do require a higher initial investment than a large filling. But since teeth with large fillings often require refilling every few years, over time, the cost of all the fillings adds up to be many times more than a crown.
Crown treatments can last over 12 years with proper regular preventative care. Whereas large fillings may need to be redone every few years. In addition to this, the overuse of fillings can result in your tooth becoming so damaged that more complicated treatments like a root canal or extractions are eventually needed.
Our Long Term Approach
At our practice, we genuinely care. We are committed to providing beneficial, long term solutions for our patients rather than quick fixes.
When you come into our clinic to have a filling done or a broken tooth repaired, our dentists will brainstorm the big picture. This includes identifying the root causes of the problem and how we can best prevent further damage in the future.
We treat the mouth as a whole rather than focus on the one or two problem teeth alone. This approach is referred to as preventative dentistry.
At our family dental clinic in Blackburn, we take this dental philosophy one step further. We prioritise treatments that will last at least 10 years with regular preventative care. We aim for your teeth to be better and stronger in 10 years than they are now. This is the type of dental service you deserve, the same kind we’d like for our family and friends.
You don’t have to suffer from breaking teeth. We’d love to help you restore your teeth, confidence and ability to live life without inhibition.
Get in touch with our friendly team today and find out how we can make your teeth healthy and strong again!