Posted on: 3 May 2017Share
A tiny, hairline crack in a tooth is rarely cause for alarm; in such cases, the damage is usually superficial and can be disguised with a veneer or dental crown. However, if the crack is quite large, and extends down to the root of a tooth, it can result in major structural damage and infection. Here are two treatment options which can be used in this type of situation.
Root canal therapy
When a tooth crack reaches all the way down to the root, it often leads to the pulp (the area of the tooth which houses its blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue) becoming inflamed. This is because the crack creates an opening which allows harmful bacteria to enter the root canals of the tooth.
In such cases, root canal therapy usually needs to be performed in order to save the tooth. During this procedure, the dentist will extract the pulp tissue, clean out the canals and then seal up the gap they have created by removing the pulp. Then, a dental restoration will be carried out to prevent further damage to the tooth and to restore its normal functionality. Dental crowns are one of the most popular restoration options after root canal therapy.
If a person chooses not to have this treatment, there is a strong chance that the inflamed pulp will become severely infected. Should this happen, an abscess could then develop. In addition to being extremely painful, an abscess increases the chances of the tooth being lost, and of the infection spreading to other areas of the mouth.
If the tooth that has been cracked has already been weakened by decay or a previous impact, it may not be possible to use root canal therapy to save it. In such cases, the dentist may need to extract the tooth. This is a relatively simple procedure which can normally be carried out using local anaesthesia.
After numbing the mouth, the dentist will use a special appliance to gently move the tooth back and forth, in order to loosen it from its socket. They will then use forceps to pull the tooth out.
Sometimes, during the process of pulling the tooth out, some of it may break off and be left behind underneath the gum line; this usually happens if the crack has weakened the structure of the tooth. Should this happen, the dentist may have to make an incision into the gum in order to access and remove the remaining part of the tooth.
After the site of the extraction has healed, the dentist will usually provide the patient with either a dental implant or a denture to replace the lost tooth.