Dentist in Silver Spring MD
Does your tooth hurt when you bite down? Or does it hurt after you let go of the bite? This condition could be associated with a tooth that is cracked, a condition also known as Cracked Tooth Syndrome.
A crack in a tooth can be a small hair line fracture or a large fracture when piece of the tooth, usually a cusp, literally fractures off. The small hairline fractures are very difficult to diagnose and most often there is no radiographic evidence of it. The symptoms are usually the indicative sign of a fracture assuming there is no visible or detectable cavity on the tooth. The affected tooth can become temperature sensitive and force you to avoid chewing on the affected side all together. What happens is that when you bite down or let go of the bite, the fractured part of the tooth flexes and you perceive this as a toothache or pain.
The treatment of choice for a cracked tooth is a Crown. A crown essentially holds the tooth together and decreases the chances of the crack from propagating further. If left untreated and chewing continues on the affected tooth, the crack/fracture may continue to propagate further into the tooth, reaching the nerve of the tooth. Once this happens, a root canal will be needed. If it propagates even further, tooth loss may occur.
Identifying the cause of cracks/fractures are very important in the overall treatment. Diets consisting of hard and crunchy foods are usually the culprit. Hard and Crunchy foods should be avoided, especially if you have very large fillings; Fillings naturally weaken the tooth. Large fillings often compromise the tooth structure and cusps of teeth and leave the tooth more susceptible to cracks/fractures. In some cases a crown may be recommended before the fracture/crack occurs. Clenching and Grinding habits also contribute to cracks and fractures, a night guard is strongly recommended to decrease the damage done to teeth (and also the TMJ).
Other Types of Fractures:
- Cuspal Fracture: This is when a Cusp of the tooth breaks off. Depending on the severity of the fracture, the pulp may also be damaged which then the tooth will end up needing a root canal. One of the reasons a cusp fractures is because of a really large filling on the tooth which weakens the cusp and this leads to the cusp fracturing off. In these situations a Crown is required.
- Split tooth: A split tooth is a tooth that has cracked and this crack has progressed to the point that now there are 2 pieces and the pieces be separated from each other. This is worst type of fracture because rarely can a split tooth be saved, they need to be taken out or extracted.
How to prevent cracked teeth:
Cracked teeth are not fully preventable, but you can take steps to help avoid it.
- Do not clench or grind your teeth – get a professionally made Night Guard.
- Do not chew on hard objects such as popcorn kernels, pens, and especially ice.
- Wear a mouth guard any time you play contact sports
If you would like to discuss this topic further, make an Appointment with Dr. Nima Raoufinia in Silver Spring Maryland.
Call us today at 301-565-4555 to make an appointment in our Silver Spring Maryland office with Dr. Nima Raoufinia to discuss the different options that are available to you.