By: Ashleigh (information provided by ADA)
With all the Topsy's popcorn, roasted chestnuts, pecan pie and all the other goodies being consumed at holiday parties, it is inevitable for us to have a call over the weekend from a patient stating that they cracked a tooth.
Cracking a tooth is not an uncommon experience, and it can be fairly painful! Signs of a cracked tooth include:
Sharp pain when biting down that quickly disappears.
Pain that comes and goes but does not hurt all the time.
Pain while eating and drinking.
And sometimes you will not have any pain (very common). This is the crack your dentist may find at your hygiene visit.
A tooth can crack because you've chewed on something hard like ice, nuts, or hard candy (candy-canes!). You can also get cracks because of an accident, grinding and clenching your teeth, uneven chewing pressure, loss of tooth structure through wear, large fillings or other restorations, exposure of tooth enamel to extreme hot and cold (like eating something hot followed by drinking ice water), and brittleness of teeth and root canals.
So, you see your dentist and are diagnosed with a cracked tooth. What can she/he do about it? Your dentist will take in many factors of the crack (location, depth, involvement of roots/pulp). Then they will plan a course of treatment that may include one of the following:
Placing a crown to protect tooth from further damage
Endodontic treatment (if pulp is involved)
Extraction (severe cracks and tooth cannot be saved)
It is important to keep regular check-up appointments with your dentist, so that cracks can be diagnosed and treated at an early stage. If your dentist finds a crack, but you do not experience any pain and decide to wait until it starts to bother you; you could do more damage. Something that could have been repaired with a simple filling can quickly turn into something very painful (and much more expensive).
Enjoy your holiday parties this month! Just be sure to look out for a hidden pit in an olive and be careful while eating all that peanut brittle. And for those ice chewers out there...you know who you are...STOP! Please and thank-you :)
Ali Jones, D.D.S. - Dentist