Having your root canal tooth cracked can be a concerning issue that may arise even after undergoing a seemingly successful root canal treatment (RCT). Understanding why these cracks occur, and the various types are crucial for those who have experienced or are concerned about this phenomenon.
Detecting A Tooth Fracture After Root Canal: Cracked Tooth Symptoms And Signs
Recognising the signs and symptoms of a cracked tooth after an RCT is vital for seeking prompt dental attention. Early detection and diagnosis can prevent further complications and increase the likelihood of saving the tooth. Here are some common indicators that your treated tooth may be cracked:
Sensitivity To Hot And Cold Temperatures
Increased sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, particularly when consuming foods and beverages, may signal a crack in the tooth. This heightened sensitivity can result from exposure to the tooth’s nerve.
Teeth cracks can create occasional pain, which makes it difficult to identify the precise reason for the suffering. If you experience occasional intense pain without an apparent cause, it’s essential to consult your dentist.
Discomfort In The Gums
Cracks in teeth can irritate the gum surrounding your affected tooth. It could indicate a crack if you notice discomfort or inflammation in the gums near the treated tooth.
Changes In Tooth Colour
Changes in the colour of the treated tooth, particularly darkening, may suggest internal damage or a crack. This discolouration is often associated with compromised blood vessels within the tooth.
Visible Crack Lines
In some cases, visible crack lines may be detected on the tooth’s surface. However, not every crack can be seen with the naked eye; thus, other symptoms are essential for a diagnosis.
Causes Of Having A Broken Tooth After Root Canal Treatment
Root canal tooth cracks can happen due to several reasons, and it’s essential to be aware of these potential causes:
- Fractured Cusp: A common cause is when a part of the tooth’s chewing surface breaks off. However, a fractured cusp rarely damages the innermost part of the teeth.
- Vertical Root Fractures: A vertical root fracture may sometimes develop when the crack extends vertically down the tooth’s root. This fracture type is often hard to detect and may lead to complications.
- Failed Root Canal: Having a cracked tooth means that the breakage can go to the pulp. So, if the initial root canal procedure is not entirely successful, it can contribute to the development of cracks in the tooth.
- Cracked Tooth Syndrome: Cracked tooth syndrome (CTS) refers to a tooth with a crack that is often too small to be visible but causes pain. Early detection through routine dental check-ups is crucial for preventing further damage.
- Tooth Enamel: Only the outer enamel can be enough to make the tooth susceptible to cracks. Factors like tooth decay, trauma, or excessive wear weaken the enamel.
Preventing Tooth Cracking After Root Canal: Practical Strategies
After undergoing an RCT, preventing tooth cracking is paramount to ensuring the success of the treatment. Follow these practical strategies to safeguard your teeth and promote long-term oral health:
Follow Post-Root Canal Care Guidelines
Adhering to the post-root canal care instructions provided by your dentist is essential. This includes avoiding certain foods, maintaining good oral hygiene, and attending follow-up appointments for assessment.
Use Protective Measures
For individuals engaging in activities that pose a risk of tooth injury, such as contact sports, wearing a protective mouthguard or a protective mask can help prevent tooth cracking that might lead to having a split tooth. A custom-fitted mouthguard provides an additional layer of defence against external forces and prevents experiencing severe pain.
Address Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Teeth grinding, i.e., bruxism, can exert excessive pressure on the teeth, potentially leading to cracks. If you realise that you grind your teeth, see a dental professional. They can suggest a nightguard to shield your teeth while you sleep.
Regular Dental Check-Ups
Routine dental check-ups allow your dentist to identify early signs of tooth cracks or other issues. Early detection enables prompt intervention, reducing the risk of complications.
Avoid Hard Foods And Objects
Minimise the consumption of hard food, like unpopped popcorn kernels, and avoid biting on non-food items like pen caps or ice cubes. Hard objects can stress teeth, especially those undergoing root canal treatment.
Adequate hydration is beneficial for overall health, including oral health. Water helps maintain saliva production, which plays a role in preventing tooth decay and maintaining tooth strength.
Is It Possible To Save A Cracked Tooth After A Root Canal?
After receiving RCT, the likelihood of salvaging a broken tooth varies depending on a number of variables, such as the severity and position of the crack, as well as the general health of the tooth. Here are the treatment options.
Dental Crown Placement
If the fracture just affects the tooth’s crown—the visible portion that is above the gum line—a dental crown may be a useful therapy. The crown acts as a protective cap, preventing the crack from worsening and restoring the tooth’s strength.
Root Canal Retreatment
Retreatment may be required if the first RCT is not effective or if a new problem emerges. This involves reopening the tooth, removing the existing filling material, and addressing the underlying problem.
Tooth Extraction And Replacement
In severe cases where the crack extends below the gum line or compromises the tooth’s structural integrity, extraction may be recommended to put an end to sharp pain.
Bonding Or Filling For Minor Cracks
Dental bonding or filling can address minor cracks that haven’t significantly compromised the tooth’s structure. This involves applying a tooth-coloured composite material to fill the crack and restore the tooth’s appearance.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are cracked teeth common after root canal treatment?
Cracked teeth after RCT are relatively uncommon but can occur. The risk is minimised with proper post-treatment care and adherence to guidelines provided by your dentist.
Is a cracked tooth painful?
A cracked tooth can cause pain. Inconsistent or erratic pain may also be present. However, avoid topical oral pain medications if you have tiny cracks in your tooth structure after an RCT.
Can a cracked tooth lead to further dental issues?
Yes, if left untreated, a cracked tooth can lead to further dental issues. It may result in infection, decay, or even tooth loss, requiring you to get a dental implant. Getting dental treatment as soon as possible is essential to avoiding problems.
The Bottom Line: Saving Your Natural Tooth After Root Canal Treatments
While having your root canal tooth cracked is not common, it can happen. Following post-treatment care instructions, being mindful of activities that may pose a risk, and promptly addressing any symptoms is crucial. Frequent dental examinations help in the early treatment of any problems in the surrounding bone or gum, enabling prompt management and maintaining oral health.
If you suspect suffering from broken teeth after a root canal or experience any concerning symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact a professional dentist immediately for a thorough examination and appropriate treatment. Proactive dental care is key to maintaining a healthy and resilient smile.
Call Parramatta Green Dental, Parramatta, NSW, at (02) 9538 7875 to get your post-root canal tooth crack treated immediately.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
7 Tips for Root Canal Aftercare: Pain Relief and Avoiding Infection | Byte®. 17 Feb. 2022, www.byte.com/community/resources/article/root-canal-aftercare.
Colgate. “What Is a Vertical Root Fracture?” Colgate, 5 Aug. 2022, www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/threats-to-dental-health/what-is-a-vertical-root-fracture#.
Hecht, Marjorie. “Do You Need a Root Canal? 7 Telltale Symptoms.” Healthline, 20 Dec. 2019, www.healthline.com/health/do-you-need-a-root-canal-7-common-telltale-symptoms.
Hilton, Thomas J., et al. “Symptom Changes and Crack Progression in Untreated Cracked Teeth: One-year Findings From the National Dental Practice-Based Research Network.” Journal of Dentistry, vol. 93, Feb. 2020, p. 103269. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jdent.2019.103269.
Mamoun, John, and Donato Napoletano. “Cracked Tooth Diagnosis and Treatment: An Alternative Paradigm.” European Journal of Dentistry, vol. 09, no. 02, Apr. 2015, pp. 293–303. https://doi.org/10.4103/1305-7456.156840.
Mathew, Sebeena, et al. “Diagnosis of Cracked Tooth Syndrome.” Journal of Pharmacy and Bioallied Sciences, vol. 4, no. 6, Jan. 2012, p. 242. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-7406.100219.
Miriam Jones Bradley, RN, et al. “How to Fix a Broken Tooth so You’re No Longer in Pain.” Healthday-en, 5 May 2023, www.healthday.com/a-to-z-health/general-health/broken-tooth-645558.html.
“What Are Teeth Craze Lines?” WebMD, 11 May 2021, www.webmd.com/oral-health/what-are-teeth-craze-lines.