While a cracked molar is common, it is usually unexpected and met with pain and discomfort. Fortunately, there are several ways to realize if you have a cracked molar. Modern dentistry offers several treatment types to get your smile back-on-track. It is always best to address dental issues quickly before they progress and leave you with long-term problems.
The most common symptoms of a cracked molar include pain when eating or exposure to high or low-temperature foods. There are other signs your tooth may be cracked that include:
Tooth pain will vary and depend on the degree that your tooth is cracked. If you have a small chip or fracture, there is a chance you won’t experience any discomfort. If you have a broken tooth that has a more extensive fracture, there is a good chance it can cause a toothache because a portion of the tooth is missing. When the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth that protect the pulp, or nerve, of the tooth go missing, it can cause increased sensitivity to hot and cold foods and spicy or sweet foods.
Some people will have no visible signs of pain because the tooth is necrotic or dead. This indicates the tooth may need root canal therapy to be saved and avoid potential pain and infection.
Numerous reasons can cause a tooth to break. Common causes include:
Treatment for a cracked molar depends on the extent of the fracture. Small cracks typically require only a small dental filling, while larger fractures require full coverage like a dental crown. A dental crown provides more stability for a tooth to avoid future long-term problems.
If a tooth is cracked below the gum line or has a vertical root fracture, specific endodontic surgical procedures can help save the tooth, and a root canal and dental crown will be needed. If the fracture is so large the tooth is non-restorable, then an extraction may be necessary. A tooth can then be replaced with a dental bridge or dental implant.
If you notice a piece of your tooth cracked, you should schedule a dental appointment with your dentist as soon as possible. This is to ensure there are no significant problems, and your tooth can be quickly repaired.
Your dentist will clinically examine your tooth and take a dental x-ray to ensure your tooth can be restored. General dentistry offers an array of professional treatment options for cracked molars that include:
Other treatment plans may be available depending on the cause of the cracked molar. If you are teeth grinding while sleeping (bruxism), you may benefit from a custom night guard to prevent stress on your teeth. Sometimes extensive dental work or orthodontics can cause poor teeth contacts leading to pressure on specific areas of your molars. You may need a simple adjustment of your occlusion to prevent these molars from being susceptible to fracturing.
If you cannot see your dentist immediately, the best remedies to keep your teeth safe temporarily are to avoid hard and crunchy foods and rinse with a warm salt rinse as an antibacterial precaution. You can take an over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen if needed for pain relief. There are also over-the-counter temporary dental filling materials to help seal your tooth from bacteria until you get an appointment with your dentist.
Dentists recommend making a dental appointment if you have a cracked tooth. The longer you wait, the greater risk that your tooth will have further damage and expensive treatment.
Some dentists will treat your tooth at an emergency dental visit. If your tooth cannot be repaired the same day, your dentist can review any necessary treatment and prescribe pain medication and antibiotics if needed.
Without proper treatment of a cracked molar, you risk the loss of your tooth. Dental emergencies can be time-sensitive; therefore, your tooth may need to be treated urgently depending on the severity of the fracture. A small fracture may not be a significant treatment initially, but it can lead to extensive and costly dental care if left untreated. A larger cracked molar can lead to pain, infection, and tooth extraction.