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Cracked Teeth

Unlike a broken bone, a fracture in a cracked tooth will not heal.

Everything you need to know about cracked teeth

There has been an increase in cracked teeth reports due to the general population exposing their teeth to many more years of crack-inducing habits, such as clenching, grinding, trauma, chewing on hard objects.

These habits make our teeth more susceptible to cracks, exposure of the inner tooth, and subsequent infection.

Cracked teeth show a variety of symptoms, including:

  • erratic pain when chewing;
  • pain with release of biting pressure; or
  • pain when your tooth is exposed to temperature extremes.

Chewing can cause movement of the cracked pieces of your tooth, allowing bacteria to enter the tooth and the pulp within the tooth becomes irritated, and can eventually become more damaged, even when you are not chewing.

It is possible that cracks can lead to infection of the pulp tissue, which can spread to the bone and gum surrounding the problematic tooth.

Unlike a broken bone, a fracture in a cracked tooth will not heal with time alone; the treatment and outcome for your tooth depends on the type, location, and extent of the crack

The extent of the crack is generally assessed with a microscope and an assessment made as to whether the tooth can be retained.

  • If the crack does not extend into the root of the tooth, it is generally treatable.
  • If the crack extends to the pulp or has damaged the pulp in some way, a root canal treatment is essential if the tooth is to be retained.

Treatment for different types of fractures

Fractured Cusps

When a cusp (the pointed part of the chewing surface) becomes weakened, a fracture sometimes results. The weakened cusp may break off by itself or may have to be removed; when this happens, the pain will usually be relieved. A fractured cusp occasionally damages the pulp, so root canal treatment is sometimes needed depending on the case.

Split Teeth

A split tooth- also referred to as a vertical root fracture is often the result of the long term progression of a cracked tooth. The split tooth is identified by a crack with distinct segments that can be separated. This type of crack can never be saved intact and the tooth is almost always lost. In certain rare cases however, it is possible to use retreatment and restoration to save a portion of the tooth.

Cracked Teeth

This type of crack extends from the chewing surface of the tooth and vertically migrates towards the root. In some cases, the crack may extend below the gum line. It is possible for the crack to extend further into the root. Damage to the pulp is commonplace. In this case, root canal treatment is usually necessary. A cracked tooth that is not treated will worsen, resulting in the loss of the tooth. Therefore, early detection is essential.

Vertical Root Fractures

Vertical root fractures are cracks that begin in the root of the tooth and extend toward the chewing surface. They often show minimal signs and symptoms and may therefore go unnoticed for some time. Vertical root fractures are often discovered when the surrounding bone and gum become infected. Treatment involves endodontic surgery if a portion of the tooth can be saved by removal of the fractured root. Otherwise the tooth will have to be extracted.

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