If you have a cracked tooth, you already know it's no laughing matter. A cracked tooth lets itself be known to the sufferer by its pain. It might be so small as to evade detection by x-rays and there be difficult to diagnose. But the electric jolt felt when chewing or biting down on food or exposing the tooth to cold can make a hairline crack feel like a fissure wider than the Grand Canyon. Even a microscopic crack in a tooth can irritate the pulp, which contains the tooth's nerves.
What Causes a Tooth to Crack?
Teeth can crack from any of the following occurrences:
·Temperature extremes (cold drinks after hot foods)
·Chewing hard candy, ice, or biting down on hard objects
·Bruxing (grinding or clenching teeth)
·Brittleness from root-canal treatment
Because most of the force of chewing is placed on the lower molars, that is where most cracks occur. Sometimes they happen below the gum line, making them almost impossible to detect. They also don't hurt continuously, but only when the nerve in the fractured tooth is affected, which adds to the problem of diagnosis. X-rays, dye on the suspected tooth, fiber optic lights and other special instruments don't always identify a cracked tooth. So occasionally it's up to you to correctly guide the dentist.
The treatment for a cracked tooth depends on the degree of damage. If the fracture is not detectable by your cosmetic dentist, he will most likely go with the most conservative treatment first. If pain persists, the next step will be a more aggressive, complex procedure. Sometimes bonding can relieve the symptoms. Teeth with more than one cusp affected can many times be repaired by the placement of a crown. If the pulp of the tooth is involved, a root canal is in order, though about 80% of the time, this is not necessary. When a crack goes into the root beneath the bone and is impossible to repair, the only option left is extraction. In these cases, a bridge to replace the missing tooth will prevent the other teeth from shifting to fill the gap. And a dental implant with a crown attached will also prevent the jawbone from shrinking to fill the gap left by the missing tooth root.
If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, avoid chewing with that side of your mouth and call your cosmetic dentist as soon as possible. If treated early, more aggressive procedures may not be needed.