A sudden, sharp pain when you bite—that’s seemingly out of nowhere?
Most likely, it’s a cracked tooth.
Even a hairline fracture in a cavity-free molar can make the most hardy of us sit up and take notice. When you’re visited by this kind of bite-down pain, get to the dentist quick.
Most cracks are superficial, affecting only part of the crown, but others are more significant and traverse the tooth deeply enough to expose root structure. The simpler “and more common” fractures that affect only enamel are easily treated with an onlay or crown. The deeper ones threaten the vitality of the tooth and require a rapid and more complicated response. And your pain can’t tell the difference.
Neither youth nor maturity put us out of harm’s way for a fracture. But a good dose of common sense can help with prevention. For instance, wear a mouthguard when you’re engaged in sports (most fractures occur as a result of some kind of rough-and-tumble accident); don’t bite through thread or clothing tags, or chew on pencils or ice; and pay attention when you’re eating olives and fruits with pits.
And if you’re already wincing, don’t wait—reach for the phone.