Chipped Teeth vs. Cracked Teeth
What’s the difference between chipped teeth and cracked teeth?
A chipped tooth occurs when a force causes a small piece of the tooth to break off. This often happens when the tooth is thin and vulnerable to breaking. Tooth chips are most common on your incisors, the flat, bladelike teeth at the front of your mouth. Biting down too hard, biting on something hard in food, using your teeth as tools, and blows to the face can all cause chipping on these teeth.
Chips can also occur on the larger, square-back teeth. Here, it’s often the cusps–the high ridges on the teeth–that are likely to chip.
Chipped teeth are sometimes simply a cosmetic problem. A chipped tooth stands out unattractively in your smile. Sometimes, though, a chipped tooth can expose the dentin in your teeth. Dentin is the softer, darker layer of tooth underneath the enamel. Exposed dentin might be sensitive to heat or cold, and it’s vulnerable to decay.
The same forces that cause chipping can cause a cracked tooth. In a chip, the line of fracture is relatively shallow. In a crack, the fracture points deep into the tooth, possibly toward the tooth’s center. Sometimes cracks in a tooth aren’t very deep. For example, incisors often develop shallow cracks called “craze lines,” which are usually more of a cosmetic problem than anything else. Cracks don’t usually break off a part of the tooth. If it does break off part of the tooth, it will be a large part.