Cracked tooth syndrome is a common problem which usually affects teeth that have large fillings.
The decay and subsequent restoration causes a weakening of the remaining tooth structure. Like all materials, teeth are subject to stress fatigue. After many bites on the tooth (stress cycles) a hairline fracture can develop, often at the bottom of the cavity.
As the tooth flexes the nerve is stimulated via tiny tubules in the dentine, which run down to the pulp (nerve), often resulting in a large amount of pain. The nerve is aggravated by the crack and by the bacteria being pumped into it via the flexing action of chewing, it becomes inflamed. The major symptom of this is a sensitivity to hot and cold, and pain on biting.
If left untreated the crack will normally continue to propagate like a crack in glass. Sometimes the crack goes off to the side, and the tooth fragment breaks off. The crack can also run deep into the tooth and at times right into the nerve. This can result in painful, extended and often costly treatment. Thus, it is essential to treat this problem early on before it develops.
At Prime Dental we recommend the best solution is usually to bind the whole tooth together with a crown to prevent further crack development.
Can Nerve Recovery Be Guaranteed?
Unfortunately no. If treated early enough the crack can usually be immobilised before it develops too deeply. However, if the bacteria have infected the nerve, the inflammation may not resolve and so the symptoms will persist.
What happens if the tooth does not recover?
The nerve will go on to die and an abscess will develop. Treatment of this involves cleaning out the inside of the tooth and sealing it. This process is called root canal therapy or endodontic therapy.