In all my years practicing dentistry, I’ve noticed a greater number of cracked teeth during the Holidays. Why? We tend to be more distracted, stressed and eat foods that can bring about the final blow to a lesioned tooth.
Most people are not ‘dentally-woke’ – only paying attention to their teeth when they brush (usually for less than the recommended time) or smiling for a selfie or a family photograph, or when they have difficulty chewing something they love to eat, or if they want their teeth looking good for social or business reasons. Add that often dental problems don’t hurt until it’s too late, and you start getting the picture.
Cracked teeth are not always obvious nor show symptoms, but there are some hints that something could be awry such as on-and-off pain, swelling of the gum around the affected tooth, pain when chewing or biting, temperature sensitivity, ‘sweetness-shock’ to name a few.
So, the question I get asked often is… why did this tooth cracked now? The answer is seldom straightforward. Aside from an obvious blow to the mouth from playing sports, a fist-fight, or an accident, other factors that cause cracked teeth are more insidious: grinding your teeth when you sleep, large fillings which can compromise the integrity of the tooth, eating popcorn, chewing nuts and hard candy are all common, every day causes for broken teeth. And of course, the natural aging process.
While not every person presents a typical symptom, dentists can sometimes foretell during a routine examination and review of dental history if large fillings need replacement. Hygienists may alert the doctor if the gums are unusually swollen or if a certain tooth has a ‘catch’ or even if there is an actual crack noticeable. Although X-rays may or may not show a small crack, magnification of the area under surgical loops or intra-oral camera may reveal if there is something going on. It is always best to address dental issues before there is an emergency.
If preventive treatment is not done or if you present with an emergency, the course of action is to first evaluate the type of crack:
There are five types of tooth cracks. Identifying and understanding them will determine the treatment options and prognosis.
The biggest complication of a cracked tooth is an infection that can spread to the gums and bone. This complication is very serious for your overall health and you should seek dental care to evaluate the condition and start antibiotic treatment.
Prevention is always the wisest choice.
For more information on Dr. Alan Friedler, visit, www.GreatAmericanSmile.com or call us at (203) 245-7575