CRACKED TOOTH SYNDROME: WHY DO TEETH GET CRACKS?
Cracked tooth syndrome is a very common problem, usually affecting teeth that are heavily filled. The decay and subsequent filling causes a weakness of the remaining tooth structure. Teeth are subject to stress fatigue. After many bites on the tooth (stress cycles), a hairline fracture can develop. If you are under a lot of psychological stress, you may grind your teeth, usually at night.
Grinding your teeth makes it worse!
Grinding at night causes a massive increase (200-300%) in the stress and strain on your premolars and molars.
You may benefit from a nocturnal splint (mouthguard).
WHY IS MY TOOTH SORE TO BITE ON?
As a tooth flexes microscopically, the nerve is stimulated. The tiny fluid filled tubes (“tubules”) which are situated in the dentine. These tubules run down to the nerve. As the tooth flexes, the crack opens and closes, causing the fluid in the tubes to push and pull on the sensitive nerve.
Bacteria can be pumped into the tubules, which causes the nerve to become inflamed, which causes sensitivity to hot and cold.
WHAT CAN HAPPEN IF I DO NOTHING?
The crack continues to slowly propagate (spread) like a crack in glass. Sometimes the crack goes off to the side, and a fragment of the tooth breaks off. The crack can also go deep into the root and then into the nerve. Teeth can go for months in a stable, yet inflamed condition.
A small crack can be treated easily but a bigger one can lead to root canal treatment or extraction of the tooth.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO TREAT A CRACKED TOOTH?
The crack needs to be immobilised. Chewing forces are extremely powerful, and patch up solutions are unpredictable and ineffective.
The best solution is to ‘BIND’ the whole tooth together with a crown (cap). The crown is bonded over the entire tooth – this seals all the microcracks and sources of bacterial leakage. The nerve now has its best chance at recovery.
10% of cracked teeth have nerves that go on to die, which requires root canal treatment.