Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Unfortunately, the incidence of cracks in teeth seems to be increasing. People are living longer and keeping their teeth longer. As a result, patients are more likely to have complex restorative and endodontic procedures that remove tooth structure, leaving teeth more susceptible to cracks. People of all ages are also living more stressful lives, which can result in crack-inducing habits, such as clenching and bruxism. Malocclusion, the misalignment of teeth, is also a major cause.
The good news is that many teeth with cracks can be saved! The key to saving these teeth is to know the characteristic signs and symptoms and diagnose the cracks as early in its development as possible.
What Are The Signs
Teeth with cracks tend to have erratic pain on mastication (biting), and the patient tends to have trouble explaining the precise location or character of the complaint. Sometimes there is pain to temperature extremes, especially cold, and sometimes there is spontaneous pain for no particular reason. Generally, there is no pain to tapping and radiographs are often inconclusive. Depending on the location, direction and extent of the crack, the patient may present any one or all of these signs and symptoms or a variety of others. This variable combination of signs and symptoms makes diagnosis more difficult.
Occasionally, when the crack involves the dental pulp, there may be signs and symptoms of irreversible pulpitis or necrosis with the possibility of pulp death, resulting in the need for root canal therapy.
What Is The Treatment
Usually a crown is the recommended permanent treatment to insure that the pulp (nerve) is protected from further injury from chewing. When diagnosed and treated early, the success of the treatment is much improved. Even though a tooth has been diagnosed and successfully treated with a crown, there is always the chance that the pulp may have been irreversibly damaged and over time may become sensitive and need root canal treatment. It may be noted that when a root canal is done through the crown, usually it can be done without permanently damaging the crown.