Do you have tooth pain that comes and goes when you are eating certain foods or chewing? You may have tooth sensitivity. It could also be cracked tooth syndrome which would require professional dental treatments to fix. What is cracked tooth syndrome, and what can dentists do to address it?
Some broken teeth are obvious. If you get hit in the mouth with a softball and your front tooth cracks, you know what problem you are dealing with and that you need a dentist’s help. Cracked tooth syndrome can be harder to determine, though.
What Is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?
Cracked tooth syndrome (CTS) is a condition that involves pain or discomfort from a crack in a tooth that is hard to see even when x-rayed or hidden under the gum line. Typically cracked tooth syndrome involves molars.
People who have cracked tooth syndrome notice pain when they are biting into something or when they are eating or drinking something that is hot or cold. This is because the crack in the tooth exposes the tooth’s inner structure, up to or including the pulp. The pulp contains nerves that conduct sensations of heat, cold, and pain to the brain. With a small or hairline crack, the pain will not be constant like with a cavity because the damage to the tooth will usually be felt only when the person is eating or drinking.
There are a number of things that can cause CTS, including:
- Tooth grinding
- Large fillings
- Root canal treatments
- Tooth alignment that results in pressure on one tooth
People with CTS usually don’t know that is what is causing their discomfort. They assume it’s just sensitivity. If you have tooth pain, you should let your dentist know. In order to diagnose cracked tooth syndrome, your dentist will do a comprehensive oral exam, including x-rays. He may also use other equipment such as a fiber-optic handpiece to examine the area of your mouth where you are feeling pain. He will ask you about what you’re experiencing and your dental history. People who have cracked teeth often have had other teeth crack or break.
What Can You Do about Cracked Teeth?
If you have a history of grinding your teeth, talk to your dentist about options to control the damage grinding can do.
If you already have a cracked tooth, there are treatments. You can have the tooth bonded. Your dentist may recommend a dental crown or a root canal. In more extreme cases, he may recommend that it be extracted. His recommendations will depend on how badly the tooth is cracked, where it is in your mouth, and how uncomfortable the damage is for you as well as the cost of various treatments and what you can afford.
Unfortunately, a crack in the tooth will not heal itself and will likely only worsen over time. This is why you should talk to your dentist when you notice the pain. You do not want part of the tooth to break off, an abscess to form, an infection to result, or damage to the pulp to occur. The sooner the dentist diagnoses the problem, the more treatments are possible to fix it. Do not wait until a root canal or extraction are the only options. If you think you have cracked tooth syndrome, call your dentist today.