The most typical cracked tooth that we see in the office is the back molar that usually has had some sort of large amalgam (silver) filling placed several years ago. There is no bond between the amalgam filling and the tooth, so as we chew on the tooth the force pushes against the cusps surrounding the filling, flexing them and then cracking them on the inside. They are still attached on the outside so everything appears as normal. Unfortunately, most of the time this situation causes discomfort when chewing certain foods giving a sensation of anywhere from just feeling un-solid to a little zing to severe pain. The tooth usually is sensitive to cold and sometimes heat as the nerve inside the tooth becomes hypersensitive from the constant stimulation and a reaction to the bacteria that are "pumped" into the interior portion of the tooth along the fracture lines. Sometimes these sensations can go away for a while only to come back, usually with even more severe symptoms.
If the tooth is not fixed promptly this can lead to fracturing the cusp off entirely or an abscessed tooth due to the excess bacteria. Sometimes the fracture extends down on the root causing a vertical root fracture which is a hopeless situation leading to the loss of the tooth.
Fortunately we can fix these if we catch them in time. After diagnosis of a cracked tooth, a restoration can be placed to cover up this cracked portion and reseal the tooth, keeping the bacteria out. Usually this is some sort of crown or "cap" which will surround the tooth, keeping it from flexing and giving the nerve inside a chance to settle down. This may happen immediately or it can take a few weeks. Sometimes the nerve has been infected too long, which can lead it to die or an abscess giving the feeling of a throbbing, constant ache or spontaneous pain. In this case usually a root canal can then be done to save the tooth from extraction.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms with your tooth, contact us immediately at 345-7786 so we can evaluate it and treat accordingly.
- from Dr. Clause