Cracked teeth are an extremely common occurrence.
The top photo above is a picture of a tooth that had recently become sore to chew on. The tooth had been filled many years ago.
I checked the tooth. The patient felt pain (a twinge/pain) when she bit down on a plastic stick and opened quickly, the same test I likely did for you. On the right is a picture of the tooth after the filling was removed.
In the second photo above, note the crack that is visible in the tooth.
Cracks usually occur in teeth that have fillings or cavities but cracks can also develop in teeth that have never been filled.
Why do teeth develop cracks?
Cavities and fillings unfortunately weaken teeth.
When we chew, we put 100 pounds or more of pressure on our back teeth.
A tooth weakened by filling plus 100 pounds of biting pressure can result in a crack in the tooth.
Symptoms of a cracked tooth:
You may have one or more of the following symptoms:
• sharp pain in the tooth when chewing hard or even sometimes soft food
• sharp pain to cold drinks and/or cold food
• toothache (if the crack extends into or near the nerve of the tooth)
Teeth that have had root canal treatment are especially prone to cracking or breakage as they always have a filling that runs deep down the middle of the tooth weakening it.
When a tooth like this cracks it sometimes splits right down the middle. If that happens the tooth will need to be removed.
When a tooth is diagnosed with a crack it is best to take action before it breaks.
The tooth pictured above was diagnosed as having a crack. I recommended
that the patient have crown placed on the tooth to prevent breakage. Unfortunately this patient decided not to crown the tooth.
This is a same view of the tooth pictured above, about one year later. It broke far below the gum line and the tooth could not be saved.
I kept this photo small. It’s the broken corner of the tooth. It broke fairly far down onto the root of the tooth.
Needless to say, the remainder of the tooth above had to be removed.
The best way to treat a cracked and/or broken tooth…
…is by cementing a crown on the affected tooth.
For example, the tooth pictured left was sore to chew on. Then, one day a corner of the tooth broke. The other corners of the tooth are also weak and could break as well.
To prevent further breakage the old filling was removed and the tooth was prepared for a crown (see left).
This is a picture of the tooth with a new resin filling (blue). The tooth was
made shorter and a small amount of tooth material was removed around the entire tooth.
The final crown is cemented on the tooth.
It is far wiser to save a tooth with a crack by placing a crown on the tooth. If a tooth with a tooth breaks and cannot be saved, it will cost far more to replace it than it will to save it.