Is it a Cracked Tooth?
You may suspect you have a cracked tooth if you experience sharp pain when biting which quickly disappears. Cracked teeth are relatively common and a generally a by-product of having fillings as well as bruxism, or night-time teeth grinding.
Amalgam (silver or black metal) fillings are notorious for causing the right conditions for crack development in teeth. Because amalgam has a property called dynamic creep, every time pressure is applied to the top of the filling, it deforms slightly by pushing outwards against the walls of the tooth which contains it. After enough time, cracks can form in the tooth structure, eventually leading to the loss of a portion of the tooth or in the worst case, a complete split.
Bruxism provides intense forces which can cause hairline cracks to form and then develop to become significant, tooth-threatening fractures. Unfilled teeth can crack under repeated teeth grinding stresses, but generally speaking, filled teeth are at a greater risk: The continuity of the tooth in interrupted by the filling, making it more susceptible to fracturing.
Teeth that have had root canal treatment fracture at a higher rate than living teeth, because they lose their flexibility. Without its active blood supply, the tooth becomes more brittle. A good analogy is a dead stick compared with a green stick- one snaps while the other bends.
What can be done?
Firstly, controlling bruxism forces is a good idea. Wearing a night guard to keep forces off teeth works well.
Secondly, removing the cracked portion from teeth helps them to avoid splitting. Replacing amalgam fillings and associated cracks with modern ceramics such as CEREC will actually serve to protect the teeth from cracking in future, such are their tooth strengthening properties.
By far the greatest number of unsalvageable split teeth occur on molar root canal treated teeth that have not had a crown so it is considered virtually mandatory to place a crown after root canal treatment.
If you suspect you have a crack, conservative early treatment is best. Leaving it too late may result in root canal treatment if the crack makes it through to the living pulp of the tooth. Advanced cracks which go beyond the pulp and through the roots of the tooth can only result in extraction of the tooth. Of course, regular check-ups will allow your dentist to detect cracks early.
So why not call Apple Dental on (02) 9420 5050 today and arrange a dental check-up with us? Our practice is located at 1 Finlayson St Lane Cove NSW 2066.