One of the most common dental emergencies exists in the form of cracked or broken teeth. The possibility of cracked teeth increases with age, as the teeth weaken. Cracks result from an unusual amount of strain placed on teeth.
- Biting hard objects
- Injury or trauma
- Initial pain
- Increase in pain as crack grows with use
- Pain when biting or eating
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food
- Difficulty pinpointing pain
Types of Cracks
The level of pain increases when pulp is exposed. These inside structures of the teeth become more and more exposed when the cracked tooth is in use, splitting the tooth further. If the pulp becomes infected, it can also infect the surrounding bone and soft tissue. This is why it is imperative to see Dr. Walton immediately. Without treatment, irreversible damage can be done. Treatment options are dictated by the type of crack. This is diagnosed through x-rays, if the crack is not visible with the naked eye.
- Crazes – These are tiny vertical cracks only affecting the tooth at enamel level. Crazes are rarely treated out of necessity, but rather for only cosmetic reasons.
- Oblique supragingival – These cracks only affect the crown of the tooth, showing no extension below the gum line. The affected area will eventually break off with little pain. No pulp is exposed.
- Oblique subgingival – These cracks do extend beyond the gum line. Because of this, when the portion breaks off, it actually stays attached until it is physically removed in our Columbus office. This is a painful type of crack that may require surgery and restorative measures, like a crown.
- Vertical furcation – This circumstance occurs when the roots of the tooth separate, affecting the nerve of the tooth. Absolute separation is not typical, so a root canal and crown can usually save the natural tooth.
- Oblique root – In this type of crack, the damage is only below the gum line and jawbone. No harm is caused to the surface enamel. While a root canal may be possible, extraction is more common.
- Vertical apical root – This crack lives at the tip of the root. Extraction is not necessary from a medical perspective, but it is often requested due to the pain level. A root canal only momentarily relieves the pain.
When it comes to cracks as a whole, a root canal and crown is the preferred treatment. If this is not viable, extraction followed by bridges, implants or partial dentures will be the next move. Dr. Walton and his team will make sure to clearly explain your options so you will have an easy decision-making process.