A tooth that is cracked can be painful and lead to disease of the tooth or fracture. How a tooth becomes cracked varies from individual to individual, but may be from chewing hard objects or foods (such as ice), an accident (such as a blow to the mouth), grinding teeth, uneven chewing pressure, loss of tooth structure through fillings, exposure of tooth enamel to extreme hot and cold, or brittleness of teeth with root canals. Regardless of the reason, decay from a cracked tooth can progress into the soft dentin of the tooth and cause an infection or abscess.
How We Can Help
Regular dental visits and professional teeth cleanings at Dr. Zaugg’s office can help keep a cracked tooth from getting out of control and infected. Dental fillings may last for many years before they need replacing. However, constant pressure from chewing, grinding or clenching may cause a filling to wear away, chip, crack or even fall out. During check-ups, Dr. Zaugg and his team will determine whether existing fillings are intact, or if any have cracked or worn away. Worn fillings should be replaced promptly before decay begins. Otherwise, the crack can go deep into the root and at times right into the nerve. Bacteria can attack the nerve, which then leads to extreme sensitivity to hot and/or cold in the tooth. The infection in the nerve can then spread into the bone underneath, causing an abscess.
In some cases, extensive tooth decay around an existing filling may leave little tooth structure once the decay is removed. Dr. Zaugg will most likely need to restore the tooth with a crown instead of a filling. A crown is a restoration that covers, or caps, a tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size. Its purpose is to strengthen as well as improve the appearance of a tooth. It is bonded over the entire tooth, which seals the micro-cracks and the variety of sources of bacterial leakage coming from the joints in the patchwork of fillings typically in these teeth.
Crowns are made from a number of materials including gold alloys, porcelain or ceramic, acrylic, metals, or a combination of these materials. The crown is cemented in place and hopefully will last for years to come. In teeth where the decay is substantial, endodontic (root canal) treatment may be necessary, or if the tooth is severely cracked and cannot be saved, Dr. Zaugg may extract the tooth. The key to treating cracked tooth syndrome is regular dental checkups. Dr. Zaugg can then diagnose and treat problems at an early stage.