If you have a cracked tooth, you have one of the most common problems that can occur in your mouth.
A cracked tooth can be a very painful experience. Cracks develop over a lifetime of heavy use and especially when teeth are subjected to the stress of chewing hard foods, ice, or biting on unexpected hard objects. The most susceptible teeth are molars and bicuspids, because they are subject to heavy wear and have large fillings. People who clench their teeth excessively can crack unfilled and otherwise perfect teeth. Painful, incomplete cracks are sometimes difficult to diagnose, but once a section of tooth breaks off (complete crack), pain usually subsides and the diagnosis is obvious.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Pain while chewing
- Pain when cold
- Pain when hot
- Pain while eating sweets
- Spontaneous, unsolicited pain
- No apparent decay present
- No apparent x-ray evidence present
- Crack usually verified visually when the tooth is prepared for restoration
Treatment of Cracked Teeth:
The majority of cracked teeth (about 9 out of 10) can be treated by placement of a crown (cap) on the tooth. When the tooth is prepared for the crown and a temporary crown is cemented, the pain is usually eliminated. If you experience no significant pain while wearing the temporary, your permanent crown will likely be successful.
Occasionally (about 1 in 10), root canal therapy is required as well as a crown because of the complex nature of the crack into the nerve. If pain persists after placement of the temporary crown, you may have a crack requiring a root canal before the permanent crown is cemented. Root canal therapy usually requires one or two additional appointments.
Vertical Root Cracks:
Some complex cracks are vertical and travel down tooth roots into the bone. These cracks are not restorable and require extraction of the affected root or the entire tooth. Unfortunately, vertical root cracks are difficult to diagnose.