Cracked teeth have always been a common finding in patients. Teeth may become cracked for several different reasons. Large fillings may weaken the surrounding tooth structure and cause crack lines to appear. Daily wear and tear from grinding/clenching or trauma can also cause a tooth to crack. Daily stress can cause the grinding of teeth during sleep (bruxism), and this can precipitate the process.
A cracked tooth can manifests itself in many different ways. Some of these symptoms include sharp pain when chewing or on release of pressure, and sensitivity to cold or hot temperature changes. It may be difficult for you to pinpoint which tooth is causing the discomfort.
The treatment of a cracked tooth depends on the extent and position of the crack. A small superficial crack can easily be treated by removing the weakened tooth structure and replacing with a filling. More extensive cracks may require the tooth to be protected by a full coverage restoration such as a crown (cap). A cap/crown protects the tooth and prevents the crack from progressing any further. In severe cases when the crack has progressed deep into the middle of the tooth, the pulp (nerve) of the tooth may need to be removed to resolve symptoms before a cap is placed. This is known as root canal treatment.
The crack left untreated can result in the tooth becoming severely compromised. The crack may propagate and involve the nerve of the tooth, which can be very painful; the tooth may become infected or in severe cases the tooth may split, in which case, an extraction would be required.
To prevent cracks from forming make sure you practice good oral hygiene to minimize the need for fillings. If you think you may be grinding your teeth at night, you may need to wear a night guard (occlusal splint) to protect and prevent your teeth from grinding against each other. If you play a contact sport always wear a mouthguard. Even with these precautions, teeth can still develop cracks. Regular visits to your dentist can ensure these are picked up early and result in minimally invasive treatment only.
If you would like to learn more, please contact our clinic.