Since a dental crown comes with a much higher price tag than a filling, many patients wonder if a crown is really needed when their dentist recommends one. While there are times a filling could be a viable treatment option over a crown, if you have a cracked tooth, a filling won’t give your tooth the protection it needs.
A cracked or broken tooth cannot repair itself like a broken bone can. And since a cracked tooth can lead to an infection that spreads to the gums, bone, and other teeth, it is imperative to keep an infection from occurring. It is also important to protect the integrity of the tooth to prevent further damage. This requires more than a filling.
At Ocean View Dental Care in San Clemente, CA, our dentists always look for and offer the most conservative treatment options possible. However, there are times that a dental crown is the most conservative option. In fact, depending on the type of crack in your tooth, even a dental crown may not be enough.
What causes a cracked tooth?
There are many ways to damage and crack your teeth, and as we age, our teeth can weaken, putting them at an increased risk of damage. Previous dental work also weakens teeth, especially large fillings.
Other common causes for a cracked tooth include:
- Pressure and force from jaw clenching or teeth grinding, also known as bruxism
- Trauma, such as a fall, car accident, athletic injury, or blow to the jaw
- Chewing hard items, such as ice, nuts, hard candy, or popcorn kernels
- Abrupt changes in temperature, such as eating something extremely hot then using ice water to cool the mouth
Protect your teeth from breakage by avoiding things that damage teeth. Do not use your teeth as “tools” to open things and stay away from chewing hard items, especially if you have had previous dental work. If you participate in sports or suffer from bruxism, discuss this with your dentist. You may want to get a customized mouthguard to protect your teeth.
It is also important to maintain good oral hygiene. Keep your teeth strong by flossing daily, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and visiting your dentist regularly.
How many ways can a tooth be cracked?
There are several types of cracks, and the type of crack determines the needed treatment. When the damage involves the roots and nerves, root canal therapy or extraction may be required.
In industrialized nations, a cracked tooth is the leading cause of tooth loss.
A cracked tooth can be:
- If the crack only involves the enamel of your tooth, you most likely won’t need any treatment. These surface cracks, called craze lines, are quite common and, most often, cause no symptoms. However, craze lines are more susceptible to staining, making them more obvious. Treatment for this is cosmetic and could include teeth whitening or composite bonding to reduce visibility.
- Fractured cusp. This most commonly occurs around a filling and does not involve the center of the tooth. Because the nerves are not involved, you may not experience pain or tooth sensitivity. This type of crack requires a dental crown.
- A crack that involves the tooth pulp. This type of crack may necessitate a root canal to protect it from further weakening or infection. After root canal therapy, you will need a crown.
- A crack that extends into the gum line. When a vertical crack does not reach the gum line, your dentist should be able to save the tooth. However, if the crack extends into or beyond the gum line, you may require an extraction.
- Split tooth. When a crack travels from the surface to beyond the gum line, the tooth can separate into segments. Most likely, this will require extraction, but your dentist may be able to save a portion of it.
- Vertical root fracture. This crack begins below the gum and travels up the tooth. This type of crack may not produce many symptoms unless infection sets in. Usually, this type of fracture requires extraction.
Contact Ocean View Dental Today
Do you have pain when you bite down, experience sensitivity to cold, heat, or sweets, or have swelling of the gum surrounding a tooth? If so, you may have a cracked tooth.
If you live in the San Clemente, CA area and suspect you have a cracked tooth, call us at (949) 388-0780 or contact us online today to schedule an appointment.
Remember, a cracked tooth cannot repair itself and can lead to serious problems. Prompt treatment gives you the best chance of preventing infection and saving your tooth.