There have been many advances in dental care. People are keeping their teeth longer. In daily use your teeth are exposed to certain habits like clenching, grinding or chewing on hard objects and over time this can contribute to the formation of cracks in your teeth. The symptoms of cracked teeth can vary greatly. With a cracked tooth commonly a person experience pain when chewing or sensitivity to hot and cold. For many people with cracked teeth the pain can be erratic which can cause difficulty in finding which tooth is the problem.
There are a number of different kinds of cracked teeth. Which treatment option will be used largely depends on what type of crack you have, where it’s located and the severity of the crack.
Craze Lines – These are very small cracks that only affect the enamel. This type of crack is very common in adults but causes no pain and is very shallow. Usually no treatment is needed unless it is a cosmetic issue. Possible treatment would be bonding or a veneer.
Fractured Cusp – The cusp is the pointed section of the chewing surface of the tooth. If it is weakened a fracture may occur. The cusp may break off from stress or need to be removed by your dentist. After removal the pain usually subsides and a damaged cusp is unlikely to cause any harm to the pulp unless the fracture involves more of the tooth. Treatment may include a bonded restoration, an onlay or a crown depending on the severity of the fracture.
Cracked tooth – This type of crack reaches from the outer surface of your tooth to the root. This type of crack often causes damage to the pulp due to its location and root canal treatment is often needed. Following this your dentist will then use a crown to restore your tooth and protect it. In some cases the crack can reach below your gum line. If this happens the tooth may need additional treatment to save it or it may need to be removed requiring an implant or bridge.
Split Tooth – Split teeth occur if a cracked tooth is left untreated. Dentists usually aren’t able to save a split tooth and the severity of the crack will indicate whether or not any part of the tooth can be saved. If some of the tooth can be salvaged your dentist will usually recommend a crown or similar restoration. If this is not possible, the tooth may need to be removed requiring and implant or bridge.
Vertical root fracture – This type of cracks begin in the root of the tooth and reach out to the outer layers. Vertical root fractures often go unnoticed as they display minimal symptoms and usually aren’t discovered until the surrounding bone or tissues become infected. Depending on the severity of the crack, treatment may involve extracting the tooth or saving a part of the tooth through removing the cracked root. If some of the tooth can be salvaged your dentist will usually recommend a crown or similar restoration. If this is not possible, the tooth may need to be removed requiring and implant or bridge.
There are a number of steps you can take to decrease the risk of cracking your teeth. It’s important to avoid chewing on hard objects like ice or pens. Similarly if you clench or grind your teeth you should consult your dentist as this can often lead to cracks. To protect your teeth against wear from clenching or grinding a night guard can be made. To protect your teeth from trauma while playing sports or other activity a sports guard may be recommended.
Rest assured the dental team at Drs. Lerner and Lemongello’s office is available to ensure your comfort and safety and are available to answer any of your concerns. So whether it is for a dental check up, a simple tooth restoration, a smile makeover, dental implants, or complete mouth restorations our team is ready to help you achieve the smile you deserve and the dental heath you want.
Get the beautiful smile you have always dreamed of, make an appointment today! Contact Drs. Lerner and Lemongello for an appointment and information on all dental procedures at 561-627-9000. Visit our website at www.lernerlemongello.com and view our “Smile Gallery” for examples of some of South Florida’s most beautiful smiles.
Drs. Lerner and Lemongello also proudly serve Stuart, Jupiter, Palm Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach
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Why can’t I just have a filling? We are often asked this question when we are recommending treatment for a cavity. Sometimes you can have just a filling but that depends on how much remaining tooth structure there is. Think of it this way. If there is a lot of tooth left than the tooth is strong and the cavity is small. In this situation a filling is all that is needed. A filling means there is tooth all around the cavity and the area can be filled in. Now consider if about ½ of the tooth is involved in the cavity. In this situation there is not enough tooth left to hold the filling in. Once this occurs there are only two ways to restore the tooth. As long as about ½ of the tooth is left, than a restoration called an onlay can be used to restore the tooth. An onlay is fabricated in the dental laboratory out of a strong, solid block of material. Once this solid piece is bonded or cemented to the tooth it is very strong and will restore the tooth to function. The final option is a crown. In this case even more of the tooth is involved and requires even more re-enforcement to restore the tooth. A crown looks like a new tooth and is placed on top of the remaining base of your tooth. Once cemented or bonded this too is a very strong, predictable way to restore a tooth to function. If we recommend more than a filling it is because long term one of the other options is the appropriate option.
We often see patients with cracked teeth. Did you ever wonder what might be the cause? When growing up if we had a cavity most of us received an amalgam (silver-mercury) filling to restore it. Amalgam (silver-mercury) fillings were common. The problem with silver-mercury fillings is what they are made of and how they are used to fill a tooth. Usually the decayed area of the tooth is removed leaving a “hole” behind. Silver-mercury filling material is them mixed and placed in the hole. No adhesive is used so there is no seal provided to the tooth. Without a seal, saliva and other materials can slowly leak under and around the edges of the filling. As this occurs over time slowly the tooth can get a new cavity deep underneath the filling. This new decay can go undetected for years not being seen through the tooth or even visible in an x-ray until it is too late. When chewing on the tooth suddenly the silver filling can shift causing the tooth to crack. Also, once you realize that silver-mercury fillings are made up of 50% mercury you can understand how they crack teeth. What happens to mercury in a thermometer on a cold or hot day? It expands and contracts depending on the temperature. Well, silver-mercury fillings do the same thing when we eat something hot or cold. They also expand or contract 6 times more that the tooth. Expansion and contraction of the silver-mercury filling inside the tooth pushes against the parts of the tooth eventually causing it to break. We often recommend removing silver-mercury fillings for these reasons. A variety of other options such as, porcelain restorations, gold restorations and composite restorations are available to restore your tooth to its natural strength and appearance.
A new patient presented today who was anxious regarding dental treatment. We mangaged her anxiety with medication and the appointment was completed in a positve way. Patient completed 1 crown and 2 onlays