Cracked Teeth

Online Dental Education Library

Our team of dental specialists and staff strive to improve the overall health of our patients by focusing on preventing, diagnosing and treating conditions associated with your teeth and gums. Please use our dental library to learn more about dental problems and treatments available. If you have questions or need to schedule an appointment, contact us.

Commonly Asked Questions:

I am allergic to latex. Is this a problem?  No, our office is latex-free.

My office just took an x-ray, why do you need to take one?  The more information we gather, the better we are able to care for you and your tooth. Our digital imaging program also allows us to measure the tooth, helping us to treat the tooth more quickly during treatment.

Will I need a crown after my root canal?  Do not be surprised if your dentist recommends a crown when you return to them. The tooth is weaker after root canal treatment and a crown is able to protect against breakage or fracture. If you already have a crown, you may only need a permanent filling.

Will there be pain after the root canal?  You should expect some minor biting and pressure sensitivity for 3-5 days after the root canal treatment. Over-the-counter medications, such as Ibuprofen or Advil, should help alleviate this.

What options does your office offer to help me relax during my treatment?  We are equipped to offer Nitrous Oxide Analgesia, also known as laughing gas. This affects everyone differently. Some patients get very sleepy on nitrous, while others are simply more relaxed. We can also offer intravenous moderate conscious sedation. for more information, please visit our Sedation Options page. If you are interested in either of these options, we would be happy to discuss it with you at your consult visit.

Why do you place a temporary filling?   You will be sore after your root canal treatment. We prefer to place a filling that is occlusally reduced so you do not bite too hard on it while you are healing. You will heal much quicker after treatment if the tooth is not occluded on.  Also, by waiting to have the permanent filling placed, we are better able to diagnose what could be causing symptoms later on.

Why can't I just take Antibiotics?  Antibiotics are carried in the blood stream to problem areas in the body so they can do their job. After a tooth has died, there is no blood flow into a tooth so the antibiotics never reach the source of the problem. Even though antibiotics do not solve the underlying problem, they can still be useful in relieving symptoms.

Cracked teeth are typically caused by one of three things: an injury, undue pressure from grinding or clenching over a long period of time, or the breakdown of prior fillings that may break down and leak. In some cases, a cracked tooth may eventually split into two pieces, making it impossible to save the tooth. In many cases, a cracked tooth can be saved by your endodontist with a filling or a crown. Left untreated, cracked teeth can also lead to damage to the soft inner tissue, or pulp, of your tooth. When the inner pulp becomes damaged or diseased, a root canal is typically the only way to save the tooth from extraction.

Here are some general prevention tips:

  • Avoid chewing or biting down on hard things such as ice, candy, pens and pencils, or popcorn kernels.
  • Avoid grinding your teeth of clenching your jaw. (Special mouth appliances are available to mitigate this problem if you can't stop on your own.)
  • Don't ignore mild or occasional pain in your tooth, because pain almost always is a sign that something is wrong. Keep in mind that pain from a cracked tooth is deceptive; it usually is not severe in nature and may be mistaken for something else such as chewing or exposing your tooth to something cold or hot.
  • Wear mouth guards when participating in sports, especially contact sports.