We use light to detect even small fractures
What is cracked tooth syndrome?
As the name implies, cracked tooth syndrome relates to a variety of symptoms caused by a crack in a tooth.
Teeth are strong – and with good home care and regular hygienist visits (professional cleanings) and check-ups with a Brisbane dentist, you’re working to keep them strong! But however diligent you are, you still can’t guarantee that accidents won’t happen. And, unfortunately, accidents can lead to fractured teeth.
Fractured teeth are the second leading cause of tooth extraction in adults, with the first being periodontal or gum disease. There are several things that can cause teeth to chip, fracture or break:
- Large filings – more than 60% tooth
- You may inadvertently bite down on something hard – ie: Olive seed
- Accidents such as falling, being hit in the mouth or contact sports
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth – this is very common
- Daily wear and tear
- 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?
Sometimes the first warning sign is when the tooth breaks in half, which is often too late! (You will know if your tooth breaks severely enough to expose the sensitive inner dentine and nerve – it will hurt!). Pain, however, may come and go and be hard to localise. It can be extremely sensitive to hot or cold drinks or being exposed to air. The pain also 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 with your dentist in Brisbane, Bite Dental, to begin the correction and repair process.
Many tooth fractures, however, do not hurt – and this is where the trouble comes in. Tiny, hairline fractures that don’t enter the sensitive part of the teeth often go undetected until the tooth collapses in half. 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. So often, these things will implode at the worst possible time. Like the start of a long holiday weekend, when most Brisbane dentists are closed!
The key, then, is to find and correct these little cracks before they become big ones. This is easier said than done. X-rays can’t detect fractures like those in bones, so they are often missed, even with a visit to a Brisbane dentist. Fortunately, there’s a new, non-invasive approach called transillumination. This longword literally means ‘shining the light through,’ and it’s something we do with every examination at Bite Dental Brisbane.
Light helps us find it, so we can fix it
As a kid, did you ever play with a flashlight on an overnight camping trip? Remember how the light could shine through parts of your hands, or produce weird-looking shadows and effects (and a nice atmosphere for ghost stories) when angled on your face? In a sense, what you were doing was transilluminating!
The same principle holds in our Brisbane dentist office (but without the ghost stories). 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. If found at this early stage, 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. Avoid emergency trips to your Brisbane dentist with the proper preventative measures.
At Bite Dental, we believe that ‘a stitch in time saves nine’, and 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 a Brisbane 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: The treatment for most cracked teeth 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 Brisbane 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.
Is treatment expensive?
As with all medical and dental procedures, prevention is less expensive than a cure. With cracked teeth, the levels of treatment vary according to the complexity of the crack.
The best way is to make an appointment so that we can take a look and give you a more accurate quote of what fees would be expected to ensure you have a successful treatment outcome for your cracked tooth.
As you would expect from this Brisbane dentist, we only use the best materials available in our treatments. We treat patients as we treat our friends, and we make sure we do the right thing by them.
What happens if a cracked tooth is not treated?
The longer a simple crack is left untreated, the more likely it will become a complex crack. The nerve inside the tooth may die, and an infection in the tooth may occur. At this stage, the tooth will require a root canal or in some cases, the tooth will have to be removed.
In severe cases, a tooth may split in half. Unfortunately, if this occurs, there is no other treatment option but to remove the tooth. A bridge, denture or implant may then be needed, which is the expensive end of dentistry, no matter which dentist in Brisbane you choose.
There are a number of factors that can cause teeth to chip and fracture. These include inadvertently biting down on something very hard; having large fillings; accidents such as falling, being hit in the face, and sports injuries; clenching and grinding of the teeth; and general wear and tear. It is also possible for large cavities to cause the thin shell of the tooth to crack and break.
It is not always possible to detect fractures with x-rays, so we make use of a small, high-intensity light to illuminate the teeth. This allows us to see any small fractures before they are visible to the naked eye. If fractures are detected at any early stage, they can generally be repaired without risk of losing the tooth.
Simple crack treatment is performed in most cases of cracked teeth, and involves the removal of the weakened cusp, and the placement of a large filling or crown on the tooth. If more than one cusp is fractured, a crown is generally recommended as it serves to protect the tooth from further damage, and prevents the crack from growing.
In cases where a crack has progressed to the nerve of the tooth or has caused inflammation in the nerve, root canal therapy may be recommended. Once the root canal therapy has been completed, a crown or filling can be placed. Complex cracks can take a long time to treat, and several steps may be required. We will advise you of the procedures best suited to your particular case.
The longer a simple crack is left untreated, the greater the chance that it will develop into a complex crack. In this case, the nerve inside the tooth may die and the tooth may become infected, causing pain and discomfort. In the case of a severe crack, root canal therapy or a tooth extraction may be necessary. In very severe cases, an untreated crack can split the tooth in half, in which case the tooth will need to be removed.
A crown is a specially designed cap that is made to cover the visible part of a damaged tooth. Crowns are secured onto the existing teeth, and are made to look and feel just like a natural tooth.
A Brisbane dentist that puts prevention first
At Bite Dental Studios Brisbane procedures for cracked teeth are completed successfully every day. If you live in Brisbane or work in Brisbane CBD and are experiencing tooth pain, whether you think you have a cracked tooth or not, it’s time to make an appointment.
By taking action immediately and assessing the area that’s causing you discomfort, you can often avoid more serious, potentially painful (and more expensive) issues in the future! For more information on this service and to make Bite Dental your dentist in Brisbane, call us on 07 3221 5399.