Posts for: July, 2013
You may never have heard of cracked tooth syndrome. However, while it is often difficult to diagnose, this condition can be very serious, and it will be helpful to familiarize yourself with the symptoms.
Cracked tooth syndrome can be summed up in three phases: craze lines, cracks and fractures. Craze lines refer to miniscule cracks in the outer enamel surface of a tooth. While they do not cause immediate harm to the tooth, they can lead to true cracks in the enamel that actually penetrate the dentin.
This can lead to a fracture, where the crack extends deep into the tooth. The deeper the crack, the worse the symptoms. If the fracture exposes the pulp, the living tissue within the tooth, it must be treated immediately in order to save the tooth. Fractures are now the third leading cause of tooth loss. This increase may be the result of several factors, including longer life spans and higher stress levels that may lead to increased teeth clenching and grinding.
The complications surrounding the diagnosis of cracked tooth syndrome stem from the fact that symptoms vary, depending upon the location of the crack and what other structures are involved.
- If you feel a sharp, intense pain for a short amount of time during chewing, then you likely have a crack in a “vital” tooth in which the nerve has not been affected. If a crack reaches the nerve, the pulp tissues housing that nerve will become inflamed and sensitive to temperature changes.
- On the other hand, if you have a crack in a tooth without living pulp, the symptoms may be vague. It's often difficult to locate where the pain is coming from until the tissues around the teeth are affected. If a crack involves periodontal structures (gum, periodontal ligament and bone), symptoms may include tenderness around the tooth, in which case it will be easy to discern the affected tooth.
- Finally, when a crack increases and becomes a true fracture, the symptoms strengthen. If located in the crown of the tooth, a piece of the tooth may come off, becoming quite sensitive to temperature change and sweet foods. If the crack is located in the root, you will experience pain of increasing intensity.
Keep in mind that early diagnosis is of utmost importance, so we will always conduct a thorough examination to check for signs and symptoms of cracked tooth syndrome. The earlier it is detected, the easier it will be to repair, so be sure to share with us any pain or discomfort that you have been experiencing.
If you would like more information about cracked tooth syndrome, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Cracked Tooth Syndrome.”
There is nothing pleasant about having a loose tooth. It can be very unsettling to feel your tooth move around, and you may be worried about losing the tooth entirely. If you notice any looseness in your teeth, you should make an appointment with our office immediately, so that we can determine the underlying cause.
There are two reasons for loose teeth, and most often, this looseness is actually a late symptom of gum (periodontal) disease. If left untreated, this disease destroys the supporting structure of your teeth, including the bone. As bone loss progresses, teeth gradually become looser, and if you do not seek treatment, this can ultimately result in tooth loss.
Another less common reason for loose teeth is excessive biting forces, including clenching or grinding of the teeth. These biting forces are outside the normal range of functional pressures and can stretch the periodontal ligaments that join the teeth to the supporting bone, resulting in loose teeth.
In both cases, this condition can be classified as “occlusal (bite) trauma.” When we examine you, we will determine the type of occlusal trauma that you have.
- If the amount of bone supporting your teeth is normal and excessive force is causing your loose teeth, it then is referred to as primary occlusal trauma. Our treatment approach will focus on reducing the biting forces. We may recommend minor bite adjustments and/or custom mouthguards.
- Secondary occlusal trauma occurs when gum disease has caused excessive bone loss. In this instance, even normal biting forces can be damaging. We will work with you to treat the gum disease and improve your oral hygiene efficiency to heal your gums. Once the gum tissue heals and the inflammation is reduced, it is likely that there will be some tightening of the teeth. We will then adjust the biting surfaces of your teeth. This is accomplished by carefully reshaping (by drilling) small amounts of your tooth's surface enamel to change the way upper and lower teeth contact each other, thus redirecting forces. Secondary occlusal trauma may also require splinting or joining teeth together, so that they can handle biting pressures. The need for this additional procedure will be determined by your response to treatment and how much mobility of the teeth remains after the inflammation is resolved.
If you would like more information about loose teeth, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Loose Teeth: Biting Forces Can Loosen Teeth.”
Once upon a time, when you had a cavity, you went to the dentist and came back with a tooth filled with metal: the common silver (or, technically speaking, “dental amalgam”) filling. But today — driven by dental researchers' quest to find a better filling material, and by the desire of many people to avoid a mouth full of dull gray metal — there are other choices.
In recent years, metal-free, tooth-colored fillings have evolved into a well-established treatment method that's finding increasing use — not just in the front of the mouth, where it's most visible, but in the back too. To help understand the benefits of these new materials, let's start by looking at the structure of the tooth.
We usually think of teeth as being hard, sturdy and durable. But did you know that their crowns, or top surfaces above the gums, actually flex under the force of the bite? Understanding the composition and behavior of teeth has led researchers to develop newer and better materials for restoration. These include improved dental porcelains and composite resins which more closely mimic the natural teeth in both function and form: That is, they're strong and good-looking too.
What's more, using these materials for fillings may mean that you can get the same result with a more conservative treatment. How? It all comes down to tooth structure. To secure a traditional amalgam (silver) filling, a tooth often had to be shaped with “undercuts,” which helped hold the material in place. This meant the removal of a greater amount of tooth structure, potentially leading to chipping or cracking of the tooth down the road.
Enter composite resins. Bonding these materials to the underlying tooth doesn't require undercutting, so less of the healthy tooth is removed. That makes for a more robust tooth structure, with potentially greater longevity. Combine that advantage with the aesthetic appeal of a restoration that's hard to tell apart from natural teeth, and you've got a winning combination.
There are different options available for restorations with tooth-colored materials. These range from quick, single-visit fillings for small cavities, to the fabrication of more extensive replicas of the tooth for complicated restorations. Exactly which treatment is needed will depend on an individual's particular dental issue and the kind of results they desire. Whatever the case may be, we can listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and offer the best advice regarding your treatment options.
If you would like more information about tooth-colored fillings, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Natural Beauty of Tooth-Colored Fillings.”