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Cracked Tooth

Cracked and fractured teeth are common dental problems. As people retain their natural teeth longer (due to advances in dental technology), the likelihood of cracked teeth increases. There are many reasons why teeth may crack, for example, biting on hard objects, trauma, grinding and clenching of teeth. All of these behaviors place the teeth under extra strain and render them more susceptible to cracking.

When tooth enamel is cracked, pain can become momentarily debilitating. When no pressure is exerted on the crack there may be no discomfort. However, as the cracked tooth performs a biting action, the crack widens. The pulp and inner workings of the tooth then become exposed, and painful irritation occurs. As pressure is released again, the two parts of the crack fuse back together, and pain subsides. If left untreated, the pulp becomes irreversibly damaged and constantly painful. The resulting pulp infection can affect the bone and soft tissue surrounding the tooth.

Symptoms of a cracked tooth may include:

  • Unexplained pain when eating.
  • Sensitivity to warm and cold foods.
  • Pain with no obvious cause.
  • Difficulty pinpointing the location of the pain.

What kind of cracks can affect the teeth?

There are many ways in which a tooth can be cracked. The specific type of crack will determine what type of treatment is viable. In many cases, if the crack is not too deep, root canal therapy can be performed and the natural tooth can remain in the mouth. In other situations, the tooth is too badly damaged and requires extraction.

Here is a brief overview of some of the most common types of cracks:

Crazes – These are generally tiny vertical cracks that do not place the teeth in danger. These scratches on the surface of the teeth are considered by most dentists to be a normal part of the tooth anatomy. A craze rarely requires treatment for health reasons, but a wide variety of cosmetic treatments can be performed to reduce the negative aesthetic impact.

Oblique supragingival cracks – These cracks only affect the crown of the tooth and do not extend below the gum line. Usually, the affected part of the tooth will eventually break off. Little pain will result, because the tooth pulp (that contains the nerves and vessels) will remain unaffected.

Oblique subgingival cracks – These cracks extend beyond the gum line, and often beyond where the jawbone begins. When a piece breaks off, it will usually remain attached until the dentist removes it. Oblique subgingival cracks are painful and may require a combination of periodontal surgery (to expose the crown), and endodontic treatment to place a crown or other restorative device.

Vertical furcation cracks – These cracks occur when the roots of the tooth separate. This type of crack almost always affects the nerve of the tooth. Because the tooth will not generally separate completely, root canal therapy and a crown can usually save the tooth.

Oblique root cracks – These cracks tend not to affect the surface of the tooth at all. In fact, the damage is only apparent below the gum line and usually below the jawbone. Root canal therapy may be possible; depending on how close the fracture is to the tooth surface. However, extraction is almost always the only option after sustaining this classification of fracture.

Vertical apical root cracks – These cracks occur at the apex (tip of the root). Though the tooth does not require extraction from a dental perspective, many patients request an extraction because of the high degree of pain. Root canal therapy alleviates the discomfort for a while, but most often, teeth affected by such cracks are eventually extracted.

How are cracks in the teeth treated?

There are many different types of cracked teeth. Some can only be exposed using X-ray machines, while others are clearly visible to the naked eye. In cases where the tooth root is affected, root canal therapy is the most viable treatment option. The pulp, nerves and vessels of the tooth will be removed, and the resulting space will be filled with gutta-percha. A crown or filling will be added to stabilize the tooth and it will continue to function as normal.

When the crack is too severe for the tooth to be saved, the dentist will perform an extraction. There are a number of restorative options in this case, such as bridges, dental implants and partial dentures. All of these structures can restore biting, chewing and speaking functions.

If you have any questions or concerns about cracked teeth, please ask your dentist.

Testimonials.

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Testimonials

I loved my experience at Dr. Lopez's office. 20 years ago I had several unsightly metal fillings put in my mouth. Also, I've worn my teeth down by grinding considerably over the years. As I grew older, my teeth did not look good to me when I smiled. In July of 2015, I wanted to have all of the metal fillings in my mouth removed, and one of the fillings in particular had already cracked the tooth that it filled. Initially, I was very nervous, but Dr. Lopez and his staff completely put me at ease from the time I walked in the door. The way he rebuilt the grinding damage on my back teeth is remarkable. He is not only a great dentist but a gifted architect and engineer at the same time. I didn't even feel the numbing shots at all, and I actually fell asleep in the chair during the procedure thanks to Dr. Lopez's relaxing demeanor and the calming music in the room. To my wife, I affectionately refer to him as Dr. Lopezzzzzz, now, since I did fall asleep. I would recommend Dr. Lopez to even my closest family. Thank you, again, Dr. Lopez.

Chase H

I went to Dr. Lopez to get veneers on eight teeth (upper, front). From my initial consultation to getting my temporary veneers put in today, I have been consistently impressed by his practice. The entire staff operate as a single, professional team. Extremely courteous, knowledgable, and accommodating, they do everything they can to help patients feel both comfortable and fully informed of everything that goes on during their visit.

My process with the veneers thus far has been extremely smooth and easy. Despite what you may read on the Internet from other people who have gotten veneers elsewhere, Dr. Lopez goes through great measures to ensure that your experience is pain and worry free. He is truly a master at his craft, and his vast experience in the dental profession (equally reflected in his accolades) definitely shows.

I have a check-up for the temporary veneers in the next couple of weeks, and the permanent veneers will arrive shortly thereafter. I have full confidence that the rest of this process will go just as well as it has so far, especially after my visit today. Highly recommend this office for your dental needs. 5/5 stars.

Jason H

I have never liked going to the dentist because of painful past experiences. Shots, rough cleanings, etc. On my first visit, I had a cleaning . There was no pain. I was impressed. And a recent event that required shots, and extractions had me concerned about pain, but Dr. Lopez reassured me not to worry. As he began the shots,NO PAIN AT ALL!!! I was more than impressed! I knew I had found my dentist. Dr. Lopez and his staff are kind, gentle, professional, and the atmosphere is very relaxed and pleasant! I am very pleased, and highly recommend him!!!

Robin T

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Dr. Juan R. Lopez
Phone: 580-536-9647
6941 West Gore Blvd.
Lawton, OK 73505