What Can Cause a Cracked Tooth?

When you think about it, teeth are remarkably durable. You subject them to biting, crunching, and chewing solid foods every day for years but if you follow good dental hygiene, they can last you a lifetime.

Sometimes, however, no matter how careful you are, a fall, a hard blow to the mouth or even a chronic condition like teeth grinding produces may cause a tooth or teeth to become fractured or cracked.

Most Common Causes of a Cracked Tooth

Sometimes you are all too aware of why you have a cracked tooth, such as when you suffer a spill on the sidewalk. At other times, a cracked or fractured tooth is discovered during a routine dental exam. Here are the most common causes for a cracked tooth:

Accidental blows to the mouth

A direct hit to the mouth can often result in a chipped tooth, fractures, and other significant oral injuries. These occur most often as the result of an unexpected fall, auto accident, or sports-related injury. Any blow to the mouth that causes a loosened, cracked, or knocked-out tooth should be considered a dental emergency requiring speedy attention.

Hard foods

Ice cubes, hard candies, unpopped popcorn kernels, and even stale bread are all frequent culprits when a tooth is cracked. It is easy to bite into a piece of food at just the right angle to produce a fracture. To avoid this, be sure and chew slowly, especially when eating pitted fruits and similar food items.

Radical temperature changes

When your tooth enamel is subjected to varying rapid temperature extremes – for instance, sucking on an ice cube after singeing your mouth on a hot cup of coffee – the result can be hairline cracks. When enamel contracts and expands during temperature changes too quickly, existing cracks may worsen, or new fractures form.

Teeth Grinding

Also known as bruxism, chronic teeth grinding, causes cracked teeth as the result of friction and repetitive stress. Because this often occurs during sleep, our patients are generally unaware that it is happening. The result is “mystery” cracks in teeth. These can begin as minor stress fractures but develop into more significant injury and pain over time if the root cause is not remedied.

Weak teeth

Weak teeth – generally caused by prolonged wearing down of enamel and/or lost tooth structure due to large fillings – are much more vulnerable to cracks. Weak or eroded enamel is often the result of diet, grinding, particular health conditions such as acid reflux, and even genetic factors.


A lifetime of use results in softer enamel and teeth that are commonly more vulnerable to injury. Older people tend to experience a cracked tooth because of this. In order to prevent cracks in your teeth, enamel that has become worn down should be properly restored or repaired at your dentist’s advice.

If you have a cracked tooth, contact our Tampa dental office today for an appointment to have your teeth smile restored.