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FAQ:  Cracked Tooth




Question:
Cracked Tooth Syndrome: My dentist has diagnosed this from symptoms and recommends a crown to stabilize the tooth.

He says there is no way to verify the diagnosis through any imaging techniques. I feel leary of undergoing a procedure without a definitive diagnosis, i.e., some sort of picture of the crack.

Are there newer technologies that perhaps my dentist doesn't have or isn't aware of? ... Visitor from CT

Answer:
Generally trauma, excessive clenching or grinding, or a large existing restoration may cause "cracked tooth syndrome."

Most fractures do not show up on x-rays. If there is a previous restoration it should be removed to visually determine if a crack exists. Often a dye is placed and then rinsed off to further enhance visualizing the crack.

The careful use of a "bite stick" on different portions of the tooth may also prove helpful in the diagnosis.

Depending on the location of the suspected crack, transillumination may allow visualization of the crack. A high intensity light is carefully rotated around the tooth. If a crack is present the tooth will appear darker on the other side of the crack.

Another option involves the use of a high powered surgical microscope to help magnify the fracture. In many endodontic practices the are used on a regular basis. Ask your dentist if s/he could refer you to an endodontist for a second opinion.

If it is determined that the tooth has a fracture place a provisional crown. The symptoms should subside. If not the tooth may require root canal therapy or have to be extracted.

Editorial Staff

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