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FAQ:  Cracked Tooth

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

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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