Worn and Broken Teeth

Treating worn and broken teeth

Clenching or grinding forces can break a tooth. Breakage is especially common in teeth with large fillings because decay and fillings can weaken the tooth and cause it to become worn. Usually these teeth can be saved by crowning them. Tooth grinding follows a back and forth or side to side pattern. Because of the shape of the teeth and the bones of the jaw, every tooth along the path will experience wear.

Severe clenching and grinding can cause internal cracks and stress fractures in the teeth. They are not painful and unless they go deep into the tooth they do not compromise the strength of the tooth. These subsurface stress cracks can usually only be seen by a light beam that has been angled to reveal them.

What can cause worn and broken teeth

When clenching or grinding causes an internal crack deep inside the tooth, the cracked segment can move away from the remaining tooth structure. The crack is usually so small and the movement so slight that it is nearly imperceptible but biting on the tooth at just the right angle can cause severe pain. If the crack does not go all the way down into the nerve canal, the recommended treatment is to put a crown or onlay on the tooth. That holds the broken tooth fragments tightly together so they cannot move and the pain goes away. If the immobilization does not ease the pain, root canal treatment will be necessary. Cracked tooth syndrome usually strikes the back molars where the force is highest.

We generally blame brushing too hard for gingival recession but it can be caused by grinding, too. Pressures on the teeth rock the tooth back and forth in the bone, damaging it below the gingival margin. When the bone is destroyed, the gingiva has no support and recedes as well. This grinding-induced gingival recession is observed most often on the cheek side of the tooth where the bone is normally thin and most easily damaged. Depending on the degree of recession, it may be necessary to perform reconstructive gingiva procedures as well as correcting the bite.

To find out more about treatment for worn and broken teeth, or to book an appointment, please contact Birdseye Dental Group today.