If you have a crack in one of your teeth, then you are likely to experience a wide range of symptoms. Pain, pressure, and sensitivity are common issues when a tooth is cracked. Pain may be felt when you bite down on the tooth, when you eat a hot or cold food, or when you lie down in bed for the evening. Pain is almost always bothersome and likely more severe in scale than when you have a mild toothache. Seeking assistance from a dentist is the best thing to do if you experience pain and sensitivity. If you want to know what your dentist will do if you have a cracked tooth, then keep reading.
Cracked Tooth Types
Before you can understand what a dentist may do to assist you with a cracked tooth, you need to know that there are several different types of tooth cracks that can develop. The cracked tooth types include broken cusps, vertical cracks, root cracks, and horizontal breaks. Also, craze lines can develop. Craze lines are the only type of crack damage that does not require serious treatment. These lines are the cracks in the dental enamel that appear over time as the teeth are subjected to a great deal of stress and pressure. While the cracks can lead to some sensitivity if the enamel is thinner than normal, the lines do not indicate that the teeth are in poor health.
Broken cusps occur when a horizontal and vertical crack meet somewhere along the biting edge of the tooth. In some cases, the tooth crown may fall away from the tooth or break off in the future. A vertical crack is a single crack in the tooth that runs down the middle or side of the tooth. A horizontal break is one that appears sideways across the width of the tooth, and a root crack is a vertical crack that shows up underneath the gums and across a section of one or both of the tooth roots.
Fixing Damaged Teeth
X-rays are typically needed to identify both the crack and the severity of the damage, especially if the damage lies underneath the gum line. Also, the imagery will help to show if the tooth pulp has been affected by the crack. If you have broken a cusp and the pulp is not damaged, then a resin based filling may be placed or a crown will be made to replace the large area of damage. If the dental pulp is damaged, then a root canal is required before a crown is placed on the tooth.
A root canal is also a good way to treat a tooth if a split releases a long sliver of enamel along the tooth's edge. Fillings and crowns may be used to fix this sort of tooth damage as well. However, this may not be possible if the crack is seen more towards the middle of the tooth. If this crack has not moved beyond the gum line, then filling material may be used inside the crack to repair it. A crown may then be needed to keep the crack from spreading further. Horizontal dental cracks can be fixed in a similar manner.
If a split tooth extends below the gum line, then the tooth can typically not be repaired. In this case, the tooth will generally need to be extracted. This is also the case when the tooth root has a long vertical crack. Root cracks do not always indicate the need for an extraction though. If the very tip of the root has been damaged, then the tip may be surgically removed and this will save the tooth.