Does this sound familiar? You find yourself avoiding chewing on one side of your mouth.There is a sharp brief pain when you chew on something hard the wrong way.
- Sharp pain while chewing
- Sensitivity to cold.
- Reaction to sweet foods
- Sore tooth but nothing to see on an X-ray
Charlotte says: Many times I see cracks in teeth before they are causing symptoms. This is the best time to act, while the nerve is healthy and before the root has broken.
When I tell my patients they have a cracked tooth, I am often asked, ‘How long can I leave this until I absolutely have to do something?’
My answer is that they should do something before it starts to hurt. Once there is pain, it may not be too late, but the risk of nerve damage or of root fracture is higher.
How soon will it hurt? There is no way to know, could be tonight, could be a few years, but waiting for pain will be risky.
So that you minimise the risk of the extra expense of root canal therapy, and so that you give your tooth the best chance of saving your tooth, the best time to treat a crack is as soon as it is noticed.
How Do Teeth Crack?
Teeth get a hard work out during our lives. They are under a lot of pressure from chewing, clenching and grinding. In addition they are heated and cooled when we eat hot and cold foods. Sometimes they crack. The older we are the more likely that one or more of our teeth will crack, simply because we have been chewing for longer.
In a mouth where there is one crack there may be others, now or in the future.
Cracks propagate, and eventually the tooth splits. Not all cracks are a disaster, sometimes a superficial corner of a tooth is lost and the dentist can easily repair it with a bonded filling.
In many cases, however the crack propagates toward the nerve of the tooth and deeply along the root. It is important to identify and reinforce cracks as early as possible, before the nerve is damaged or the tooth is irreparable.
What can be done?
The best way to support a crack, so that it’s propagation is halted, is by bracing the tooth with a rigid container called a crown. Depending on the crack, it could be possible to provide some support from an overlaid filling.
If your dentist feels that tooth cracking is caused by grinding at night, he or she might recommend wearing a bite guard at night to protect your teeth.
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