Cracked teeth are surprisingly common — in fact, research estimates that as many as 80% of adults over age 40 have one or more teeth with cracks. While some tooth cracks are caused by traumatic injury to a tooth — either by an impact to the face or from biting a hard object — other cracks happen from habits like grinding or clenching.
Deep cracks that reach the central pulp part of the tooth usually are associated with a toothache that drives us to seek treatment. But more superficial cracks may cause intermittent symptoms or no symptoms at all, leading many people to think it’s OK to skip treatment — at least for now.
The team at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC knows better. Even a mild crack creates an opening for decay-causing bacteria to enter. Once “inside” the tooth, it doesn’t take long for serious infections to occur, causing significant pain and compromising the health and structure of the tooth.
At our New York City practice, we offer custom care solutions for cracked teeth, and we also provide our patients with the knowledge they need to make smart, timely care decisions. If you have a cracked tooth or if you suspect you do, here’s why prompt treatment is so important.
Why all cracked teeth need treatment
Many people think of teeth as being completely solid all the way through. But every tooth has an interior part where the tooth pulp is found. The pulp contains blood vessels and nerves that keep your teeth healthy.
When you get a crack, the tiny opening lets bacteria get inside the tooth and into the pulp portion. If you delay getting treatment, you can wind up with a deep infection that can eventually spread into your jaw.
You might think a tiny crack wouldn’t be big enough to cause any problems but even the tiniest crack or fissure leaves plenty of room for microscopic bacteria. That’s why all cracked teeth need to be treated as soon as possible.
Treating a cracked tooth
While a simple cavity typically can be treated with a filling, a cracked tooth requires a different type of treatment to prevent decay and further damage. In most cases, cracked teeth can be successfully treated with a root canal followed by a crown or, in some instances, with a crown by itself.
Crown by itself
If a tooth has a very small crack with no sign of internal damage or decay, then the dentist might recommend a crown without the need for a root canal. Surrounding the entire upper (visible) part of your tooth, your crown will provide extra strength for your tooth while forming a barrier that prevents bacteria from causing an infection.
Root canal and crown
If the crack has allowed bacteria to enter the tooth and the central pulp part of the tooth is infected, then a root canal is a safe, time-tested way to preserve the tooth and avoid an extraction.
During root canal therapy, the dentist removes the decayed or infected pulp and fills the tooth with a biocompatible material. Then, the dentist applies a custom crown to provide extra strength and support, while also hiding discoloration that typically occurs once the “living” part of the tooth is removed.
In severe cases, like when the crack extends below the gum line, the tooth will need to be extracted and replaced by a bridge, partial denture, or implant.
Don’t ignore tooth symptoms
If you have a cracked tooth or if you have any kind of unexplained tooth pain, don’t ignore it. Our team can design a treatment plan based on your specific oral health needs, so you can avoid more serious problems.
To learn more about cracked teeth and their treatments, call 929-229-0255 or book an appointment online at Compassionate Endodontists New York/NYC today.