Pain from Cracked Teeth
When the outer hard tissues of the tooth are cracked, chewing can cause movement sensation, and the pulp becomes irritated. When biting pressure is released, the crack can close quickly, resulting in a momentary, sharp nerve pain. Irritation of the dental pulp can be repeated many times by chewing.
Eventually, the pulp will become damaged to the point where it can no longer heal itself. The tooth will not only hurt during chewing but may also become sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Eventually, a cracked tooth may begin to hurt all the time. Cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, spreading to the bone and gum tissue that surround the tooth.
Types of Cracked Teeth
There are different types of cracked teeth. The treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location, and extent of the crack.
When a cusp (the pointed part of the chewing surface) becomes weakened, a fracture can result. The weakened cusp may break off by itself or have to be removed by Dr Lee. When this happens, the pain will usually be relieved. A fractured cusp rarely damages the pulp, so root canal treatment is seldom needed. Your tooth will usually be restored with a full crown.
Some cracks extend from the chewing surface of the tooth toward the root. A cracked tooth may not be completely separated into two distinct segments. Because of the position of the crack, damage to the pulp is common. Root canal treatment is frequently needed to treat the injured pulp.
Dr. Lee will restore your tooth with a crown to hold the pieces together and protect the cracked tooth. At times, the crack may extend below the gingival tissue line, which requires extraction.
A split tooth is often the result of long-term separation of a cracked tooth. The split tooth is identified by a crack with distinct segments that can be separated. A split tooth is rarely saved intact. The position and extent of the crack, however, will determine whether a part of the tooth can be saved. In rare instances, endodontic treatment and a crown or other restoration by Dr. Lee may be used to save a portion of the tooth.
Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin in the root of the tooth and extend toward the chewing surface. They often show minimal signs and symptoms and may therefore go unnoticed until the surrounding bone and gum become infected. Treatment may entail extraction of the tooth. However, endodontic surgery is sometimes appropriate if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root.
Cracked Teeth - Prevention
While cracked teeth are not completely preventable, you can take some steps to make your teeth less susceptible to cracks.
- Don't chew on hard objects such as ice, popcorn kernels, or candy.
- Avoid clenching or grinding your teeth.
- Wear a mouthguard or protective devices when playing contact sports.
Early diagnosis is important. Even with specialized dental equipment and special lighting, it can be challenging to determine the extent of a crack. A cracked tooth that is not treated will progressively worsen, and eventually result in the loss of the tooth. Early diagnosis and treatment are essential to saving these teeth.
If you have any symptoms of a tooth fracture, contact Northwood Endodontics to schedule an appointment.