Ever had the experience of getting a sharp zing, not when you are biting into something, but when you let go?
You may have a cracked tooth. Many of us grind or clench during the day or night and this causes wear and tear on our teeth. If you look in the mirror under a bright light, you can see thousands of little cracks in the surface of the teeth. These are not an issue and occur over time but are usually very superficial and don’t cause pain.
Biting into something and feeling a sharp zing on release is a sign you have a crack in your tooth.
Cracks in teeth are like cracks in a windshield. Sometimes they are very minor and sometimes they go all the way to the root and we lose the tooth. We cannot see the extend of a crack on an x-ray. They don’t show up until the nerve is affected and we lose the tooth. We treat them based on symptom relief and we start with the most conservative treatment first.
- Remove and replace the filling. When we remove the old filling we can often see the crack in the offending cusp and remove it. If symptoms are relieved here, you are done!
- Symptoms are not relieved. There are two possibilities from this point. If the tooth is better but not perfect and there is no temperature sensitivity to hot or extreme cold (all teeth can feel cold as a normal sensation). We put a temporary plastic crown on the tooth which acts like a barrel to hold the tooth together from the outside. We let you chew on this for a few weeks. If the tooth is 100% better, we place a permanent crown and you are done.
- Symptoms are not relieved but the tooth is temperature sensitive. We now have to remove the nerve but we don’t complete the root canal in case the tooth is vertically cracked and we lose the tooth. We let you try it for a few weeks. If the tooth is 100% better, we complete the root canal and then place a permanent crown to stabilize the fracture.
- If we have put a plastic crown on, and removed the nerve and the tooth still hurts, it has a vertical fracture and it must be extracted. Only 3% of teeth will end up here but if it is you, we don’t want to have spent your money on a full root canal and crown only to find out you can’t bite on the tooth.
Most cracks can be treated very efficiently and we can get you back to chewing with ease!!