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- Root Fracture – See Image
Teeth can become cracked or fractured due to injury, disease, or normal wear and tear. Structural weakening, such as with old amalgam fillings or faulty dental work, may also lead to cracks in teeth. At Northwest Endodontics, we provide our patients with complete diagnostics and treatment for cracked teeth.
Types of Cracks in Teeth and Their Treatment
Understanding what type of tooth crack you may have is the first step in developing a treatment strategy. The most common are:
Common in adults, craze lines are tiny cracks that only affect the tooth’s outer enamel layer. These cracks are superficial, of no consequence, and usually do not require any treatment beyond those desired for addressing cosmetic concerns.
The cusps are the ridges or prominences that form the outer edges of a tooth’s structure. Cusp fractures can occur when the cusp becomes weakened. When this happens, the cusp might break off completely or be removed by your dentist or one of our endodontists.
Since fractured cusps do not typically damage the interior pulp of a tooth, root canal therapy is not usually necessary. In these cases, your dentist can restore your tooth to its original form and protect it from further damage with a dental crown.
A treatable crack can be fixed without the need to extract the patient’s tooth. These cracks extend from a tooth’s chewing surface and migrate vertically toward the tooth’s root. In some cases, the fracture might extend beyond the gum line and even further into the tooth’s root.
With these cracks, the tooth’s pulp commonly becomes damaged, and root canal therapy is often necessary.
These types of cracks typically occur due to a cracked tooth going without treatment for too long. A split tooth features a crack that has distinct segments.
Unfortunately, a split tooth cannot be saved in its whole form. However, depending on the extent and position of the fracture, some portion of the tooth might be preservable with a combination of endodontic treatment and dental restoration.
Vertical Root Fracture
Vertical root fractures begin on the root, below the gum line, and extend upward toward the tooth’s visible chewing surface. Unfortunately, vertical root fractures often are not visible to the naked eye and do not cause noticeable symptoms. As a result, they often go undetected until the crack has worsened and infection has developed in the pulp of the tooth’s root canal.
If the tooth can be saved by removing a portion of the fractured root, then vertical root fracture treatment requires endodontic surgery. If the tooth cannot be saved, then tooth extraction is necessary.
Is a Cracked Tooth a Dental Emergency?
A severely cracked tooth might constitute a dental emergency. However, most cracked teeth can wait for a scheduled appointment to be treated. That being said, it is essential to seek treatment for a cracked tooth as soon as possible. Allowing a cracked tooth to go untreated could lead to the crack worsening, eliminating the possibility of saving the tooth and resulting in necessary tooth extraction.
Signs and Symptoms of a Cracked Tooth
While some types of cracks in teeth, such as vertical root fractures, do not often cause noticeable symptoms, other types of cracks in teeth can. Common signs and symptoms of cracked teeth include:
- Visible fracture line in the tooth
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Sensitivity to pressure
If you experience any of the above-listed signs and symptoms, we recommend scheduling an appointment right away.
Additionally, if you incur an injury to the head, face, or jaw area, we recommend scheduling a checkup. We can take radiographs of your jaw and teeth to ensure there are no cracks or fractures below your gum line that need to be addressed.
Cracked Tooth Treatment at Northwest Endodontics
Our offices are fully equipped to diagnose, evaluate, and treat cracks in teeth. If one or more of your teeth become cracked, we encourage you to contact us to schedule an appointment at Northwest Endodontics. Our endodontists can take X-rays, evaluate the damage to your tooth, and help you determine the appropriate course of treatment to save and restore your cracked tooth.