As much as you may try to avoid cavities and stick to your oral hygiene routine, life happens. Unconscious behaviors like teeth grinding, unexpected incidents like biting down on a nutshell or olive pit, and sporting accidents are just a few examples of trauma that can lead to cracking a tooth.
A cracked tooth is vulnerable to harmful bacteria, decay, disease, and infection, and it may become quite uncomfortable or even painful if left untreated. Therefore, if you have one, you may wonder how to treat a cracked tooth.
As you read this article, please remember that it isn’t intended to be a substitute for care from a dentist or endodontist. It is purely informative and will help prepare you for your appointment with an endodontist.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
When dealing with a cracked tooth, the sooner it’s treated, the better, since early intervention is what prevents pain, infection, and the possibility of losing the tooth.
A cracked tooth can present a variety of symptoms, although they’re not always noticeable. Here are some signs that you might have a cracked tooth:
- Erratic pain when biting down or chewing food. The pain might come and go, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact tooth that’s causing discomfort.
- A visible crack. However, in most cases, you won’t see anything, especially if the crack is tiny or not on the front of your tooth.
- Sudden pain when your tooth is exposed to very hot or cold temperatures, like drinking tea or iced water.
- Inconsistent pain, which can make it hard for your dentist to recognize the source and locate the tooth, causing discomfort.
If you experience these symptoms or suspect a cracked tooth, it’s best to see an endodontist as soon as possible. They specialize in saving cracked teeth and will cater treatment to the type, location, and extent of the crack.
The sooner your tooth is treated, the less you have to suffer and the better the outcome. Acting fast can stop the pain and give you the chance to save your natural tooth.
How Dentists or Endodontists May Treat a Cracked Tooth
The best treatment for a cracked tooth depends on where the crack is and the extent of the damage. The goal is always to prevent the crack from growing, which could lead to a complete fracture of the tooth. Here are some common ways to treat a cracked tooth:
- Bonding: A plastic resin is used to fill the crack, restoring the look and function of the tooth.
- Crown: A dental crown is a cap that covers the cracked tooth. It is custom-made to fit over your tooth and is bonded into place. Crowns are often used when the crack is large or has a lot of decay.
- Root Canal: If the crack has extended into the pulp of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary.
- Extraction: If the damage is too severe, the only remaining option may be to extract the tooth.
How Endodontists Assess the Damage and Location of the Crack
Remember, if you suspect a cracked tooth, it’s best to see an endodontist as soon as possible. They specialize in saving cracked teeth and will cater treatment to the type, location, and extent of the crack. The sooner your tooth is treated, the greater chance you have of keeping your natural tooth.
Sometimes it can be challenging for a dentist to identify which tooth is damaged since the pain can come and go. Endodontists specialize in tooth restoration and use a range of tests to get to the source of the problem.
When you see an endodontist, they may perform tapping tests and hot or cold sensitivity tests. These techniques may seem low-tech, but they offer essential insights that can help them find where the pain is coming from. Your provider may also use specialized, high-tech imaging tools that general dentists don’t often have available. Since the root canal structure is so minuscule, endodontists tend to embrace cutting-edge technology that can contribute to a better patient experience.
After your examination, your endodontist will explain their findings, talk you through your treatment options, and develop a treatment plan.
Why Seek Care From an Endodontist
If you have a cracked tooth, consider seeking care from an endodontist, who specializes in saving teeth. After completing a general dentistry degree and getting licensed, an endodontist completes a specialized endodontics program lasting around two years. During that time, they focus on studying diseases affecting dental pulp and how to treat them, which makes them highly knowledgeable and passionate about restoring teeth. For information about endodontists, visit the American Association of Endodontists website.
The team at Ballantyne Endodontics is proud to save and restore teeth for Charlotte, NC, residents. Many of our dentists know firsthand the pain of failed dental treatment, so we make sure to treat each patient with compassion and empathy. In addition to our shared passion for patient care, we use today’s best tools and diagnostic techniques to find the real problem and minimize the risk of failed treatment.
Contact us today to book your appointment or ask us how to request a referral from your primary care general dentist.