Have you ever had a tooth that’s tender on biting hard food, but when you are not eating, there is no pain? That’s a common symptom patients present with at the dentist.
Of course, the tooth is checked for decay, lost or cracked filling, and an x-ray would probably be taken to eliminate any root or gum problems. Often, all of these tests come back with negative findings. The tooth in question appears sound, sometimes a virgin tooth or with only a small filling. Unfortunately under these circumstances, the tooth probably has a crack.
What can cause a crack in tooth? Sometimes people have habits such as grinding or clenching, others may favour a diet consisting of hard and crunchy foods, and some have habits of biting on pens or pencils. All of these can contribute to a cracked tooth.
Only a dentist can made a correct diagnosis of a cracked tooth. Most of the time, a crack does not show up on an x-ray. The dentist may need to remove the existing filling to visualize the crack, or use a crack finder instrument to localize the area causing the pain, sometimes, a metal band is placed on the tooth to aid in diagnosis.
Treatment of a cracked tooth can vary depending on the direction and extend of the crack. It may be a large build up filling covering and protecting the tooth, a crown with root treatment, or even extraction.
As a patient, to avoid having cracked tooth, it’s best to stay away from hard foods, stop an oral habits of chewing non-food items, and if there is a grinding habit at night, wear a splint (night guard) to protect your teeth.