Shining the light on tooth fractures

Teeth are strong – and by practicing good home care with regular, professional cleanings and check-ups, you’re working to keep them strong! 

However, accidents happen. And, unfortunately, accidents can lead to fractured teeth. Fractured teeth are the second leading cause of tooth loss in adults, with the first being periodontal or gum disease. 

What causes a tooth fracture?

There are several things that can cause teeth to chip, fracture or break: You may inadvertently bite down on something hard. Sports injuries, and accidents such as falling, being hit in the mouth, or being involved in traumas such as an car accident, can break, split or crack a tooth. Also, large cavities may lead to ‘more cavity than tooth’ and the resulting thin shell of tooth is vulnerable to cracking and breaking.

How will I know if I get a tooth fracture?

You’ll know if your tooth breaks severely enough to expose the sensitive inner material and nerve – it will hurt! The pain however may come and go. It can be extremely sensitive to hot or cold drinks, or being exposed to air. The pain increases when you chew and put pressure on the tooth. You may also feel the sharp edge of the broken tooth with your tongue. If you experience any of these unfortunate events, please make an emergency appointment to begin the correction and repair process.

Many types of tooth fractures, however, do not hurt – and this is where the trouble comes in. Tiny, hairline fractures in teeth that don’t enter the sensitive part of the teeth often go undetected. Over time, these fractures can form areas for bacteria to collect and begin the all-too-familiar process of producing acids that lead to tooth decay. Since any fracture is capable of going deeper, the existence of undetected fractures sets you up for a broken-tooth-waiting-to-happen. So often, these things will also happen at the worst possible time. Like the start of a long holiday weekend.

The key, then, is to find and correct these little cracks before they become big ones. This is easier said than done. X-rays cant be used to detect fractures like those in bones, so they are often missed. Fortunately there’s a new, non-invasive approach called transillumination. This long word literally means ‘shining the light through’, and it’s something we do with every examination at Bite Dental.

Light helps us find it, so we can fix it.

A small, high-intensity light is used to illuminate the teeth. Any small, undetected fractures, such as the ones we’ve discussed above, can easily be seen with this technique. Once found at this early stage, very often the crack or chip can be repaired with no risk of losing the tooth. This is so much easier than waiting for your tooth to start hurting or fall apart when the risk of losing the tooth becomes very real.

At Bite Dental, where we believe that ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, our examination procedures rely on the power of light to find little problems. That way, we can fix them before they get big!

How do you fix a cracked tooth?

Early intervention with care from your dentist is important for cracked teeth. Propagating cracks may be stopped or slowed down, increasing the chances that the tooth can be saved. The treatment approach depends on the extent and the position of the crack(s).

Simple Crack Treatment:

This cracked tooth treatment involves removing the weakened cusp and placing a large filling or crown on the tooth. If more than one cusp is fractured or if the tooth is heavily restored, than a crown is usually the recommended treatment. The crown protects the tooth and aims to prevent the crack from propagating. Think of a strap around a split tree branch!

Complex Crack Treatment:

If the crack has progressed to the nerve of the tooth or has caused inflammation of the nerve, root canal therapy may be needed before the crown or filling is put in place. With these cracks, treatment can take a long time as your dentist needs to assess how each step heals. It is best not to rush these and place a crown only to find out the crack is too large and the tooth has to be removed later on.

What should you do if you have a cracked tooth?

 Prevention is better than cure when it comes to tiny hairline fractures, and we recommed you visit us every 6 months so we can monitor any little problems. However, if an accident happens, book an emergency appointment with Bite Dental today!

Right now, we are offering new clients the chance to join our studio. Take advantage of a full one-hour dental check-up, consultation, and any x-rays required, all for just $99. If you are looking for convenient, trustworthy and personal Queen Street dental care, please call us on 07 3221 5399 or contact us today.

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