One of the most common problems we encounter in modern dentistry is how to treat a cracked tooth.
Today's lifestyles involve eating healthy foods (muesli, granary bread, etc) with lots of hard bits in it, high stress working enviroments (many of us grind our teeth, often at night as a stress relieving habit) and the way we now retain our teeth longer, often for life. This means lots of often heavily filled and weakened teeth enduring heavy strains and workloads for many years. It is hardly surprising that cracked teeth become a problem, normally starting from the third decade of life.
Many teeth have superficial cracks in them which are visible but of no consequence. These are thought to be caused by thermal cycling (hot drinks then cold air or ice cream, throughout your life). However if the crack becomes deeper and enters the dentine layer, symptoms will occur. This happens mainly in back teeth. It may start as sensitivity to hot and cold things, or pain when biting crunchy things. The treatment is to reinforce the tooth across the line of the crack. This may be done by use of a white (bonded) filling
, or a crown
. If the crack is severe it may injure the pulp (nerve) within the tooth and cause an abscess. At this stage the tooth may require a root filling
Ultimately the crack may propagate right through the tooth causing a fracture of one or more cusps and depending upon the depth of the fracture this may result in the tooth becoming unrestorable. Although most cracked teeth can be treated simply and successfully, a small number will cause persistent problems and will ultimately require extraction. Cracked teeth are unpredictable and it often takes a lot of time and effort to diagnose and treat them successfully.