Cracked teeth are a major cause of tooth loss and many times require endodontic therapy (root canal). Cracks in teeth can allow the dental pulp to become become infected which can spread to the bone and gum surrounding a problematic tooth and cause more extensive problems.
Cracked teeth may be caused from trauma or a result of stress induced TMJ
Sometimes there is only an intermittent toothache which may indicate a cracked tooth. Symptoms may include pain when chewing, temperature sensitivities, or throbbing at different times of the day. Tooth pain may come and go, making it difficult to diagnose the cause of discomfort.
Types of Cracked Teeth
Tiny cracks on the outer enamel of the tooth are more common in adults. These types of cracks are superficial and are usually of no concern.
Fractured Crown - Cusp
A weakened cusp may fracture. As a result the cusp may break off or be removed by a dentist. A fractured cusp rarely damages the pulp, so root canal is not necessary. Dr. Garelick will usually restore the tooth with a full crown.
A crack that extends from the chewing surface of the tooth down towards the root may compromise the structure and health of the tooth. The crack may extend below the gum line and even into into the root. Damage to the pulp is common. A cracked tooth that is not treated will worsen, resulting in the loss of the tooth. Therefore, early detection is essential. Root canal treatment is usually necessary.
A split tooth is usually the result of an untreated cracked tooth or sever trauma. The crack will now segment the tooth. In most cases the tooth can not be saved. Depending on the location of the split, its possible that a root canal can save the tooth root and allow restoration with a dental crown.
Vertical Root Fracture
A vertical root fracture begins at the root and extends towards the chewing surface of the tooth. Treatment involves endodontic surgery if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root. A dental implant can provide a replacement root and a dental crown is used to replace the visible portion of the tooth.
Root canal alternatives
Dental implants offer an alternative to root canal therapy. In some cases dental implant surgery may be preferable and off a more secure anchor for crown replacements. Based on the location of the tooth a dental bridge may offer the patient with a second alternative. Non replacement of the tooth leads to dental disease and failure of the adjacent teeth. Dr. Garelick, after examining a patient's unique condition, can help the patient to decide which treatment meets their needs.