After going through the hassle of dental appointments, you finally got your root canal done and a crown placed over it. But now, after a year or two, you find yourself dealing with a cracked tooth under your crown. It’s frustrating and can feel like a setback. But don’t worry, there are steps you can take to address the issue before it gets worse. In this article, we’ll discuss the symptoms, causes, and treatments for cracked teeth under crowns. Pay close attention to your eating habits and take better care of your oral health to prevent further damage.
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Understanding Cracked or Fractured Teeth
A cracked or fractured tooth is a dental emergency that you can’t ignore. When you have a cracked tooth under a crown, it becomes an even bigger problem. The extent of the crack will determine the appropriate course of action recommended by your dentist to save your tooth. Although anyone can experience a cracked tooth, it is more common in adults and children. In severe cases, the tooth can break completely, so it’s essential to have it checked if you experience any symptoms of a fractured tooth.
Different Types of Cracked Teeth
There are different types of cracked teeth that you should be aware of. These include:
- Craze lines: Minor cracks on the outer layer of the tooth (enamel) called craze lines. They are typically painless and cause no harm if left untreated.
- Fractured cusp: When the crack occurs around the filling, it is called a fractured cusp. It doesn’t affect the interior part of the tooth where nerves and connective tissues reside, so it doesn’t cause much pain.
- Split tooth: A split tooth has a crack that starts from the tooth’s surface and extends to the top below the gum line. It is an extensive crack that can break the tooth into two fragments. In most cases, it is unlikely to save the entire tooth.
- Crack yet to reach the gum line: This condition is similar to a split tooth but can still be saved. The crack starts from the tooth’s surface and stops below the gum line. However, if the crack increases and extends to the gum line, a tooth extraction may be necessary.
- Vertical root fracture: This type of fracture starts below the gum line and goes upward. It typically shows no symptoms unless the tooth becomes infected.
Common Causes of Tooth Fractures
Tooth fractures have become a significant problem in recent years. Age, biting hard foods, bad eating habits, root canals or large fillings, bruxism (teeth grinding), and injuries or trauma are some of the common causes of tooth fractures. As we age, our bones and teeth become more fragile, making us more susceptible to fractures. Biting hard foods or having bad eating habits can weaken the teeth over time. Dental procedures like root canals and large fillings may weaken the tooth structure, making it prone to fractures. Bruxism exerts excessive pressure on the teeth, causing them to break or fracture. And, of course, any injury due to accidents or physical violence can also lead to a fractured tooth.
Recognizing the Symptoms
A cracked tooth may not initially cause any symptoms. However, over time, you may begin to feel pain and discomfort. Look out for the following symptoms:
- On and off pain while biting or chewing
- Sensitivity to sweet, spicy, hot, and cold foods
- Swelling around the gums
- Toothache while eating
These symptoms may not appear initially but will gradually worsen.
Potential Complications of a Fractured Tooth
If you or your child experiences a fractured tooth, it is crucial to visit the dentist as soon as possible to prevent tooth extraction. If left untreated, a fractured tooth can lead to various complications:
- Increased tooth sensitivity: A fractured tooth under a crown can make you sensitive to heat and cold, causing sharp pain when biting or chewing.
- Tooth decay: An untreated cracked or fractured tooth can lead to tooth decay and cavities. This can result in other complications such as dental abscesses or gum disease.
- Infection in the dental pulp: A cracked tooth under a crown is vulnerable to severe bacterial infection that can spread to the dental pulp. In such cases, a root canal is necessary to protect the tooth.
It is essential to understand that a fractured tooth cannot be treated at home, and attempting to do so is highly discouraged. However, you can try some home remedies to alleviate the pain. For example, applying an ice pack to the affected area from the outside can help reduce swelling. Taking anti-inflammatory drugs can provide pain relief, and rinsing your mouth with saline water can promote healing.
When it comes to professional treatment for a fractured tooth, an endodontist is the specialist to consult. The treatment will depend on the extent of the damage. Some common treatments suggested for cracked or fractured teeth include dental bonding, cosmetic contouring, root canal procedures, and, in extreme cases, tooth extraction.
Dental bonding involves using a plastic resin material to fill in the crack. This is the most affordable treatment option for a cracked tooth.
Cosmetic contouring, also known as odontoplasty, is a procedure that reshapes the tooth to improve its appearance and shape. It is primarily used to treat minor cracks and fractures by rounding rough edges and polishing the tooth’s surface.
If the damage extends to the dental pulp, a root canal procedure may be necessary to protect the tooth from further complications.
Tooth extraction is the last resort when the damage is beyond repair. Dentists will only consider extraction when other treatment methods are ineffective.
If you have recently experienced a dental injury or are showing symptoms of a cracked tooth, it is crucial to contact your trusted dentist and schedule an appointment. Your dentist will thoroughly examine your tooth and recommend the appropriate treatment. Remember, early intervention can help save your tooth and prevent further complications.
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