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Many dental issues, like cavities, develop over time and may stay unnoticed until detected by an oral health professional. However, some serious dental problems, like cracks in a tooth’s enamel, can occur in an instant and immediately change the way you eat, smile, and speak.

While your dentist can repair a cracked or chipped tooth, it’s smarter to prevent this type of dental injury when possible. In this blog, we provide you with steps you can take to prevent cracks and chips in the future.

Address the Symptoms of Bruxism

One of the biggest risk factors for cracking and chipping is the enamel wear that results from teeth clenching and grinding over long periods of time.

If you find yourself clenching or grinding during the day, you may be experiencing too much stress or have a muscle issue in your jaw. Find ways to reduce your stress and see a doctor for any persistent symptoms.

If you often wake up with a headache, tightness in your jaw, or aching teeth, you may have bruxism. Talk to your dentist about solutions for this nighttime dental condition.

Avoid Hard Food Items

Cracking and chipping almost always result from biting down on a hard object, whether the object is food or not. To protect your teeth from becoming chipped on food items, think about the foods you eat and which, if any, could threaten your teeth.

Common culprits include:

  • Bone-in meat
  • Corn on the cob
  • Hard candies
  • Ice cubes
  • Popcorn kernels

You may not need to eliminate these foods entirely, but you should come up with safer ways to eat them. For example, you can cut meat off the bone and corn off the cob, suck on hard candies and ice, and inspect your popcorn for kernels as you eat.

Don’t Use Your Teeth as Cutting Tools

Your teeth are designed for normal chewing. When you use your teeth to take tags off of new items, cut thread, or open containers, the motion strains your teeth in an abnormal way. This unusual motion makes your teeth more vulnerable to breakage.

If you often feel tempted to use your teeth as cutting tools, invest in a small utility tool you can carry with you, like a pocket knife or pair of sewing scissors.

Find Alternative Fidgeting Fixes

Sometimes you may not even think about the non-food items you put in your mouth. People who chew on pens, pencils, and other household items are more likely to experience cracks and chips in their teeth.

If possible, find other ways to release your excess energy. Doodle, play with a fidget toy, or even chew gum to avoid gnawing on the nearest pen.

Get Fitted for a Mouthguard If You Play Sports

Some tooth breakage occurs due to impact injuries, usually sustained during contact sports or accidents. You may not be able to predict when you might slip and fall, but you can predict when your teeth will be at risk during a recreational activity.

If you play a contact sport, get fitted for a mouthguard. Wear the mouthguard during practice and games to reduce the risk of dental injury.

Maintain a Mouth-Healthy Diet

The stronger your tooth enamel is, the less likely it is to break when put under stress. You can bolster your enamel strength by making smart eating choices.

Your mouth-healthy diet should contain:

  • Calcium, commonly found in dairy
  • Fiber, like apples
  • Folic acid, commonly found in dark green vegetables
  • Probiotics, like Greek yogurt
  • Protein, like low-fat meats

Discuss your nutrition options with your dentist and your primary care doctor to make smart decisions about what you put into your body.

Practice Good Oral Hygiene

In addition to eating well, you must also establish a good oral hygiene routine to keep your tooth enamel strong. Choose high-quality floss, mouthwash, and toothpaste for your best results. You can learn more about toothpaste shopping in our previous blog, “What to Look for When Buying Toothpaste.”

Make and keep regular dental appointments. No matter how good your at-home routine is, many dental conditions can only be detected and addressed by your dentist.

Seek Dental Treatment for Any Tooth Breakage

If you suspect that you have a broken tooth, seek dental attention right away. Your dentist may be able to reattach a broken part of your tooth but only within the first few hours after the incident.

Otherwise, your dentist may use a crown, a veneer, or dental bonding to repair the damage. In this case, it is still important to see a dentist as soon as possible since cracks and chips can worsen over time and compromise the structural integrity of the tooth. If left unaddressed, this type of injury can necessitate extraction.

Use these guidelines to prevent acute dental injury and achieve better oral health overall.