Cracked teeth always need dental evaluation, but does cracking a tooth guarantee you will lose it? Does a cracked tooth need to be pulled every time? The answer may not be as clear-cut as you would hope. However, endodontists work to save teeth, even cracked ones, that dentists might opt to extract. If you have a cracked tooth, you may avoid losing it with endodontic treatment.
Why Some Dentists Pull Cracked Teeth
Some dentists recommend always pulling cracked teeth. Before endodontic treatment was readily available, this option helped prevent infection from developing inside the tooth and spreading.
However, today, root canal therapy and endodontic surgery offer ways to clean out the cracked tooth, seal it, and prevent infection. Therefore, if your dentist suggests pulling a cracked tooth, get a second opinion from an endodontist who can offer treatment to increase the chances of saving the tooth.
Sadly, even the best endodontist cannot guarantee they will save all cracked teeth. Some cracks are beyond the capacity of endodontic care. For example, when a crack starts at the tooth’s root end and moves vertically to the biting end, the tooth may be beyond saving in many cases. Similarly, some cracks that start at the biting end and go under the gums may indicate too much damage to the tooth.
Why You May Not Need Your Cracked Tooth Pulled
Cracked teeth that have minor cracks an endodontist can repair can be saved. Some common cracks that regularly avoid extraction after a root canal include cracks that only affect the tooth above the gums, cracks only on the biting surface, and some types of tooth breaks.
Sometimes, even split teeth with full-length cracks that split the tooth into pieces can still have some natural tooth retained with endodontic surgery. Cracked tooth care is highly personalized based on your tooth’s condition, so get a professional exam.
To increase the chances of saving your tooth, go to an endodontist as soon as you can set an appointment. Cracks will worsen over time, and some people wait so long that their cracks grow to become untreatable. Timely care can help you avoid needing to have your tooth pulled.
How an Endodontist Can Save a Cracked Tooth
Endodontists use root canal therapy and endodontic surgery to save cracked teeth. For example, the endodontist can clean germs from the tooth with root canal therapy for minor cracks that only affect the tooth above the gums. Removing bacteria inside the tooth protects your teeth and mouth from developing an infection that could lead to a lost tooth or a systemic illness.
Some cracked teeth may require surgery to save part of the tooth or remove the fractured area. For people with cracks at the root end, an apicoectomy is a surgery that cuts into the tooth’s root tip to treat problems. This type of surgery allows the doctor to clean out the root canals around the cracked area and remove the fractured part of the tooth to save the remainder.
When deciding on the best treatment for your cracked tooth, the endodontist will take digital X-rays or cone beam CT 3-dimensional images of the tooth. These digital images may show the endodontist the crack’s extent and how to approach the issue best.
Even after endodontic treatment, you may need to return to your dentist to get a crown over the cracked tooth. A crown strengthens the tooth and prevents the cracked tooth from reopening.
Causes of Cracked Teeth
Cracked teeth happen for several reasons, including sudden impacts or slow damage over time. Many people crack their teeth from the following:
- Impacts from playing sports, especially without a mouthguard
- Longterm nightly tooth grinding
- Biting down on hard candies or foods
- Using teeth to bite ice, open bottles, or rip open packages
- Having a large filling in a tooth
How to Know Whether You Have a Cracked Tooth
Because cracks can happen anywhere on your teeth, including below the gum line, you may not immediately know that you have damage to a tooth. Watch out for the following symptoms that hint at a possible crack in one of your teeth:
- Biting or chewing pain
- Sensitivity to temperature extremes
- Erratic pain that may come and go
The above problems also occur in teeth with deep decay or infections, requiring endodontic care. Therefore, you need to see an endodontist for any dental pain and tooth sensitivity.
What Should You Do If You Notice a Cracked Tooth
You need to contact an endodontist if you notice a visible crack in a tooth, had a traumatic injury, or feel symptoms of a crack. You won’t know until after an endodontist looks at the tooth and images of it whether the doctor can save it. However, endodontists are doing everything they can to help their patients keep their natural teeth and avoid extractions, even from cracks in the teeth.
Ways to Prevent Cracked Teeth
Preventing cracks in your teeth is the best way to avoid the need for future endodontic care. Use the following safety measures to reduce your chances of cracking, chipping, or breaking a tooth:
- Wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth at night
- Wear a mouthguard when playing sports, especially high-impact ones
- Don’t chew non-foods or hard foods, such as ice, unpopped popcorn kernels, or pens
- Use tools and not your teeth for opening packages and bottles
- Find ways to avoid clenching your teeth when under stress; a therapist can help
See Us at Southern Endodontic Specialists for the Treatment of Cracked Teeth
Whatever type of cracked tooth you have, get it looked at by one of our doctors with Southern Endodontic Specialists. We have two convenient locations to choose from, both offering the same exceptional endodontic care. Contact our Houma or Thibodaux location to schedule a visit for a chance to save your cracked tooth with endodontic treatment. We will do everything we can to help you avoid needing your cracked tooth pulled. Let our doctors help you to keep your natural smile complete.