Teeth can crack in several different ways. Cracks may affect the crown, root or both parts of the tooth.
Cracked teeth demonstrate many types of symptoms ranging from discomfort to pain when chewing, pain on release of biting pressure and sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Often, these symptoms occur inconsistently, making diagnosis difficult.
What can I do to prevent cracked teeth?While cracked teeth are not completely preventable, there are some steps to take to minimise your risk:
How will a cracked tooth be treated? The treatment and outcome for a cracked tooth depends on the type, location and extent of the crack. Not all teeth are amenable to treatment. Split teeth are almost always doomed for failure. Your endodontist is the best person to advise you on the appropriate treatment.
Usually, there will be a need to stabilise or splint the tooth with a band to prevent further progression of the cracks. Endodontic or root canal treatment is often necessary if there is pulpal involvement aising from the crack. Endodontic treatment will relieve pain and resolve pulpal inflammation and infection but it will not cure cracks, as these are physical defects on the tooth surfaces. When the cracked tooth becomes asymptomatic and has stabilised, a crown will be placed. Placement of a crown provides maximum protection, retards the progression of the cracks but does not guarantee success in all cases.
After treatment for a cracked tooth, will my tooth completely heal?Treatment for your cracked tooth is important because it will relieve pain and reduce the likelihood that the crack will worsen. Once treated, most cracked teeth will continue to function and provide years of comfortable chewing.
However, it is important to realise that unlike a broken bone, the fracture in a cracked tooth will not heal. In spite of treatment, some cracks may continue to progress and separate, resulting in the loss of tooth.
Chewing on a cracked tooth can cause micro-movement of the affected fragments and changes in the dentine and pulp resulting in pulpal irritation. It is the release of biting pressure on the affected tooth that causes the sharp pain experienced by some patients. Over time, the pulp becomes irreversibly damaged and the tooth will hurt consistently even when not in function. Cracks are also pathways for bacteria ingress leading to infection of the pulp and its surrounding tissues.