Cracked Tooth Syndrome Brisbane City
We use light to detect even small fractures
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, 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 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 fillings (more than 60% of the tooth)
- You may inadvertently bite down on something hard, such as an 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.
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 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 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:
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 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 bet 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 the team at Bite Dental Studios, we only use the best materials available in our treatments.
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.
Book a consultation
Unsure about where to start? Get in touch with us. Our dental team will be able to look into your individual circumstances and guide you in the right direction.
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 does a dentist do for a cracked tooth?
Simple cracks or chips that are best described as ‘rough’ or ‘sharp’ edges are easy to fix with basic filling materials. Larger cracks are the challenge and cause many a headache for both dentist and patient as we try to work out what is going to happen.
It’s the teeth that are sore to chew on, sensitive to hot or cold or the crack exposes the nerve of the tooth that are hardest to determine what will be the long-term outcome.
Essentially there is only one real outcome available.
Cracked teeth are not like bones and the crack will only get larger until it finally splits the tooth in half. This is not good.
To stop a crack propagating we need to structurally brace the tooth together.
With the current materials available the only ones strong enough are the ones we use for dental crowns. Ceramic, porcelain or gold.
Filling materials will get you out of trouble but these are a resin plastic so they bend and can allow the crack to continue. They also only bond for around 5 years so once this bond breaks down we are back to the start again and the tooth will continue to crack in half. The old amalgam fillings can work but a lot of patients are not keen on this material.
The best advice is to take your time moving through the different phases of treatment. Make sure that the tooth is stable before you invest further money. You may decide to place a filling and review the tooth over the next couple of years before placing a definitive crown then.
This way you have the best chance of making sure that the treatment you receive will be a success.
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