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Frequently Asked Questions
Do I need a root canal for a cracked tooth?
That is a very tough question to answer!
Simple cracks or chips that are not painful will likely not involve a root canal procedure and can often be managed quite easily. Those teeth that are sore to chew on, sensitive to hot or cold or the crack exposes the nerve of the tooth are a totally different beast to deal with.
The decision to do a root canal is made if the nerve is going to die. We have no way of testing for this – and some nerves do heal - so we use a series of tests, look at the results and then essentially take our best guess of the outcome we expect.
All possible outcomes are on the table. Ranging from a simple filling, full crown, root canals, gum surgery and even the loss of the tooth with or without its replacement.
The best advice is to take your time moving along the different phases of treatment. Make sure that the tooth is stable before you invest further money.
I often place temporary crowns on those teeth we can’t be sure about. These can stay in place for 6-12 months so we can assess if the nerve heals or not. This way we have the best chance of not having to cut off an expensive crown to do a root canal down the track.
And yes – worst case scenario you can do a root canal through the top of a crown. Problem is that the seal we place afterwards is not ideal and reduces the longevity of the root canal. Its best to replace the crown to preserve the root canal long-term.
What can cause teeth to chip and crack?
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.
How are cracks detected?
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.
What does simple crack treatment involve?
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.
What does complex crack treatment involve?
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.
Why is it important to treat a cracked tooth?
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.
What is a crown?
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 in Brisbane, procedures for cracked teeth are completed successfully every day. If you live in Brisbane or work in the Brisbane CBD and are experiencing tooth pain, it’s time to make an appointment, whether you think you have a cracked tooth or not.
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
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek the opinion of an appropriately qualified health practitioner.