Don't fret if you have a cracked tooth! At the Orangeville Dental Centre, we can help repair your tooth to its natural look and function.
What is a Cracked Tooth?
Cracked and fractured teeth are common dental problems. Since people retain their natural teeth longer (due to advances in dental technology), the likelihood of cracked teeth has increased.
There are a number of reasons why teeth may crack, such as biting on hard objects, trauma, grinding, and clenching of teeth. These behaviours place the teeth under extra strain and make them more susceptible to cracking.
How do I know when a tooth is cracked?
Cracked tooth enamel can cause you to experience pain when biting. In the absence of pressure 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.
Pain subsides as the pressure is released again, because the two parts of the crack fuse back together. If left untreated, the pulp will become irreversibly damaged and constantly painful. A pulp infection can affect the bone and soft tissue surrounding the tooth.
Symptoms of a cracked tooth 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?
The specific type of crack will determine what type of treatment is viable. When 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 will need to be extracted.
Here is a brief overview of some of the most common types of cracks:
Crazes are scratches on the surface of the teeth and are considered by most dentists to be a normal part of the tooth anatomy. A craze rarely requires treatment for health reasons, but a wide variety of cosmetic treatments can be used to reduce any negative aesthetic impact.
- Oblique Supragingival Cracks
These cracks affect the crown of the tooth only and do not extend below the gum line. In most cases the affected part of the tooth will eventually break off. Since the tooth pulp (that contains the nerves and vessels) will remain unaffected, there will be little pain will result.
- Oblique Subgingival Cracks
Oblique subgingival cracks are painful and may require a combination of periodontal surgery (to expose the crown) and endodontic treatment to place a crown or other restorative device. These cracks extend beyond the gum line and often beyond where the jawbone begins. When a piece breaks off, it will usually remain attached until the dentist removes it.
- Vertical Furcation Cracks
Vertical furcation cracks occur when the roots of the tooth separate. These cracks almost always affects the nerve of the tooth. Since the tooth will not generally separate completely, root canal therapy and a crown will usually save the tooth.
- Oblique Root Cracks
These cracks tend not to affect the surface of the tooth at all. The damage is only apparent below the gum line and generally below the jawbone. Root canal therapy might be possible, depending on how close the fracture is to the tooth surface. However, extraction is almost always the only option after sustaining this classification of fracture.
- Vertical Apical Root Cracks
These cracks occur at the apex (tip of the root). While the tooth does not require extraction from a dental perspective, many patients request an extraction because of the high degree of pain. Root canal therapy alleviates the discomfort for a while, but usually, teeth affected by such cracks are eventually extracted.
When a crack is too severe for the tooth to be saved, the dentist will perform an extraction. There are a variety of restorative options available in this case, such as bridges, dental implants and partial dentures. All of these structures can restore biting, chewing, and speaking functions.