Foods To Avoid If You Don’t Want A Cracked Or Chipped Tooth In Houston, TX
If you want to avoid a dental crown or cavity filling, we recommend staying away from these tricky foods.
Photography by Pete
Have you ever enjoyed a snack or meal and then suddenly heard a worrying crack? You may have just fractured or chipped your tooth. As strong as dental enamel is, it’s not invincible. With the right food and the wrong pressure, you can potentially put your teeth’s health at risk by cracking or breaking them. While it’s often easy to see how far chips extend, the same isn’t true for dental cracks. Even hairline cracks that are hard to notice can run deep into your tooth and cause unseen harm.
Some snacks, like sticky and chewy treats, might not hurt your tooth as directly. The sugars in them can lead to cavities and decay in need of a filling, but the real problem lies in your existing dental work. Since these foods cling tightly to your teeth, they can loosen existing cavity fillings and crowns, potentially pulling them free.
You can’t plan for a dental emergency like these, but you can do your best to keep them from happening in the first place. One way you can prevent damaging your teeth and previous dental work is staying away from foods we consider part of the “do not chomp” list:
- Ice cubes
- Caramel candies
- Dried fruits
- Hard candies
- Frozen candy bars
Popped popcorn is notorious for getting trapped between teeth and under gums. While this can be annoying, it’s not dangerous to your smile. It’s the unpopped kernels that you want to look out for. No matter how well you cook your bag of popcorn, there will always be at least a few stragglers that don’t manage to pop and find themselves in your handful while watching a movie or TV show. Biting into one can damage the tooth’s enamel, often causing cracks or small chips. Sometimes, enough force can fracture part of your tooth off or break existing dental work, like a cavity filling or dental veneer.
Even if you don’t accidentally bite down on them and crack or chip your teeth, popcorn can still cause other problems for your smile. Kernels can sometimes become wedged between the teeth and gums, becoming difficult to remove even with dental floss. In some cases, they may even lead to dental abscesses!
For many people, ice cubes are just a quick way to cool down their drinks or use as a makeshift cold compress if they get hurt. However, some people have a habit of crunching down on them while having a drink. Ice is harder than dental enamel, even when crushed, and your teeth won’t appreciate you eating them. It’s a similar experience to biting down on a rock, which our dentists don’t recommend either.
Almonds may make for a healthy snack, but they can come with their own set of dental problems. These tough nuts to crack are known to cause teeth to crack and chip and teeth sensitivity. In extreme cases, snacking on almonds can even lead to jaw joint disorders, making it difficult to eat, swallow, speak, or open your mouth.
Caramel Candies and Dried Fruits
Incredibly sticky foods like caramel candies and dried fruits are bad for your teeth for several reasons. One of the most well-known ones is that they stick so thoroughly to the tooth’s surface that they can speed up the tooth decay process and cause cavities. Less prominent but even more serious is that these chewy foods can pull loose dental work free from your mouth if you’re not careful!
When eating ribs, chicken wings, and other boned foods, be careful when chowing down. Like other strong, hardy foods, they can risk you chipping or cracking your teeth if you accidentally bite down on them. Even small bits of bone that might appear in certain foods, like fish, salads with meat, and soup, can sneak their way into your mouthful and do plenty of damage despite their size.
As tasty as hard candies can be, they can be bad for your teeth if you’re not careful. This isn’t just about the sugar leading to tooth decay and cavities, either. Hard candies are, well, hard. They’re meant to be sucked on for lasting flavor, not bitten down on immediately. After all, jawbreakers didn’t earn their name for no reason. Consistently chewing hard candies like lemon drops, Jolly Ranchers, and lollipops can eventually show themselves in your smile.
Frozen Candy Bars
If you thought chocolates and candy bars were safe, you’re only half right. Soft chocolates aren’t likely to cause any imminent damage except tooth decay if you’re not careful with your dental hygiene routine. However, many people stow candy bars in the freezer for hot summer days when they’ll be a refreshing break from the sweltering heat. Like other hard foods, frozen candy bars run the risk of damaging your teeth if you don’t let them thaw.
Is A Broken Tooth An Emergency?
Not all fractures and breaks are made equal. For some people, their chipped or cracked tooth isn’t serious, and they can wait to fix the damage. However, there are cases when you need to see one of our emergency dentists for immediate broken tooth repair. Please make an urgent appointment with our Houston dental team if you experience any of the following issues:
- Tooth pain and toothaches
- Excessive bleeding
- Sharp tooth fragments
- Loose teeth
Cracked teeth are especially dangerous. What happens if you leave a cracked tooth untreated? Even if they don’t cause any broken tooth pain or swelling, they can still leave your tooth especially vulnerable to infection. Tooth decay and cavities don’t need to work their way past the hardy surface enamel protecting the softer layers below. Instead, they can immediately start attacking the sensitive tissues without you knowing until it’s much too late.
How long can a tooth infection go untreated? Some cavities and dental infections can take months to become serious. Others can have a much more sped-up timeline, especially with fractures leaving an easy backdoor straight to the tooth’s center.
Fixing A Broken Tooth
There are several options for cracked and chipped tooth repair, depending on the damage’s extent. For example, cracks and chips that don’t make it past the enamel only need simple cosmetic procedures to fix them. However, more severe damage may need emergency tooth repair procedures like crowns and root canals. These treatments work to keep teeth healthy, and they may even help save your tooth’s life.
Cosmetic treatments like dental bonding or dental veneers allow a dentist to restore and remake the tooth’s surface, using composite resin with bonding or a porcelain tooth facade with veneers. In addition to fixing minor cracks and chips, they can help with several other aesthetic issues:
- Teeth stains
- Gaps between teeth
- Misshapen teeth
- Minor crookedness
- Uneven teeth
- Dental wear and tear
More extensive and severe tooth damage covering most or all of a tooth’s surface may require a dental crown. Crowns are common with broken teeth that are missing a large part of the original tooth. During this procedure, the damaged and decayed tooth parts are removed before the crown is placed to restore the tooth to its old shape, look, and function.
Can a crown last a lifetime? A dental crown’s lifespan depends on the type of crown. Which one you get depends on the tooth’s location and your preference:
- All-Porcelain: entirely natural-looking and durable enough to last 20 years with good care
- Porcelain-Fused-To-Metal (PFM): have a metal base beneath their porcelain exterior to withstand greater force and pressure than all-porcelain ones and last up to 25 years
- Base Metal: often relegated to back teeth due to their unnatural appearance but are incredibly sturdy and last 30 years
- Gold: most durable and wears down at the same rate as enamel, making it capable of lasting 50 years to a lifetime
If a fracture, break, or tooth infection reaches the tooth’s centermost dental pulp, you’ll need a root canal. Root canals go deep into the tooth, often taking out pulp down to the root when the damage is severe enough. They’re also helpful when a dental abscess forms at the tooth’s base and needs to be drained. After clearing the tooth, it will be filled and sealed with a tooth filling or crown.
When can a tooth not be saved? There may be no salvation for your tooth if too much has broken off or the dental pulp is badly injured or decayed enough that the tooth dies. At this point, your tooth may become numb without the tooth’s nerves in the pulp telling the brain that something’s wrong. In some cases, an immediate root canal can still bring a tooth back from the brink. However, for most, a dentist’s only choice is to extract it.
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