Cracked and fractured teeth are common dental problems. As people retain their natural teeth longer (due to advances in dental technology), the likelihood of cracked teeth increases. There are many reasons why teeth may crack, for example, biting on hard objects, trauma, grinding and clenching of teeth. All of these behaviors place the teeth under extra strain and render them more susceptible to cracking.
When tooth enamel is cracked, pain can become momentarily debilitating. When no pressure is exerted on the crack there may be no discomfort. However, as the cracked tooth performs a biting action, the crack widens. The pulp and inner workings of the tooth then become exposed, and painful irritation occurs. As pressure is released you can experience a sharp pain again when the two parts of the crack come back together, and then the pain may subside. If left untreated, the pulp becomes irreversibly damaged and constantly painful. The resulting pulp infection can affect the bone and soft tissue surrounding the tooth.
Symptoms of a cracked tooth may include:
Unexplained pain when eating.
Sensitivity to warm and cold foods.
Pain with no obvious cause.
Difficulty pinpointing the location of the pain.
What kind of cracks can affect the teeth?
There are many ways in which a tooth can be cracked. The specific type of crack will determine what type of treatment is viable. In many cases, if the crack is not too deep, root canal therapy can be performed and the natural tooth can remain in the mouth. In other situations, the tooth is too badly damaged and requires extraction.
How are cracks in the teeth treated?
There are many different types of cracked teeth. Some can only be exposed using X-ray machines, while others are clearly visible to the naked eye. In cases where the pulp is affected, root canal therapy is the most viable treatment option. The pulp, nerves and vessels of the tooth will be removed, and the resulting space will be filled with gutta-percha. A crown is placed to wrap and stabilize the tooth so that it will continue to function as normal.
When the crack is too severe for the tooth to be saved, Dr. Escarsega will perform an extraction. There are a number of restorative options in this case, such as bridges, dental implants and partial dentures. All of these structures can restore biting, chewing and speaking functions.
If you have any questions or concerns about cracked teeth, please ask Dr. Escarsega.