Monday, April 27, 2015

Cracked Tooth and How to Fix It

Cracked Tooth Information

Something that can happen is a cracked tooth. Here are some facts you should know if you ever have this dental problem.

What Causes a Tooth to Crack?

If you have a sharp pain when you bite down on a tooth, you may have a cracked tooth. Certain foods that are denser, like roast beef, may cause pain when biting. Sometimes, the cracked tooth will also be sensitive to temperature changes, especially cold.

Why do some Teeth Crack?

Sometimes when we bite on something hard, a portion of the tooth breaks or a crack develops. I have had this happen to me eating popcorn, nuts, and cherry pie ( there was a pit in the pie filling). I have had patients who have bitten on steel buckshot that was not removed from the duck that was prepared for dinner.

An accident that causes trauma to your mouth can cause a crack and/or fracture. A large filling can precipitate a crack due to stress on the outside walls of the tooth. 

I have seen cracks and fractured teeth happen due to grinding and clenching of teeth. I have even seen a weightlifter break a front tooth from clenching during his lifting. Sometimes, eating ice cream and drinking hot coffee at the same time will induce a fracture due to extreme temperature changes.

How does the Dentist Diagnosis a Cracked Tooth?

In some cases, it is easy for the dentist to see the crack upon examination. 

 Sometimes, it is difficult or impossible to see the crack and an x-ray may not show any evidence. Sometimes a fiber optic light can illuminate the area of the tooth to show the crack.

One of the easiest ways to diagnose which tooth hurts is for the dentist to use a frac-finder device. This is a plastic instrument that is placed over the suspected tooth over each of the cusps (points) of each tooth and having the patient bite down on the frac-finder. 

If the patient feels pain upon biting, it is usually a good indicator that the tooth has a crack. Testing with cold air on several teeth is helpful to diagnose the offending tooth. If the patient cannot identify a specific tooth that hurts, I ask the patient to wait until the symptoms reappear. 

When the patient feels pain upon biting, the patient will place their index finger on the sensitive tooth and go to a mirror to see the problem tooth. Sometimes, biting on a Q-tip swab will elicit the pain to let the patient know of the problem tooth.

What is the Treatment of a Cracked Tooth?

The treatment of the cracked tooth can be as simple as minor bonding with a composite (white) filling to having the tooth removed if the crack is extensive into the roots. 

In many cases treatment will be a full coverage crown. 

Endodontic treatment (root canal therapy) may be required if the pulp is involved..

It is not unusual for teeth to have small cracks and most are asymptomatic (problem free). It is important for the patient to contact his/her dentist if a tooth continues to hurt to bite and have pain.

If YOU have a cracked tooth, or any other dental issue, contact me.

Even if you already have a dentist, I'm available to answer any questions you may have. to help you understand your condition and what to discuss with your dentist.

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