Unfortunately what Brocallie says makes a lot of sense. If only I had heard of cracked tooth syndrome before. Now I can find all KINDS of information on it! Sometimes in all areas of medicine we patients want and expect certainty, but we can never have this and even if we get crowns or root canal we may encounter further problems with the affected teeth down the road. I'll post an update after I see my dentist.
Hi peaceloverescue. I'm sorry to hear that you may have joined this club.
I did go back to my dentist. I had procrastinated further and the tooth was only getting more sensitive. Unfortunately, the diagnosis of a cracked tooth was quite clear, even though the crack was not visible. My dentist prepped the tooth and gave me a temporary crown. When he drilled into the tooth the crack became visible. He said it was stained (from coffee and tea, I guess), which indicated that it had been there for some time -- no surprise there. He referred me to an endodontist, who took an x-ray that didn't show any infection. The crack has never shown up in x-rays, which apparently is quite common.
When you have a cracked tooth, there are three possible resolutions, as I understand it. The first is a crown, which acts as a circumferential splint that stabilizes the cracked tooth. If the nerve of the tooth is dying, a root canal is necessary as well. In some cases the tooth can't be saved even by means of root canal and it has to be extracted. Unfortunately there is a certain amount of guesswork and uncertainty involved in treating cracked teeth.
I've continued to experience pain and sensitivity since getting my temporary crown. The endodontist advised me not to get a permanent crown unless the pain subsides and the tooth feels like any other tooth in my mouth. His guess is that the nerve in my tooth is slowly dying and that I will probably need a root canal. I'm basically resigned to this at this point, but I've decided to take ibuprofen for a month or two to make sure that the inflammation isn't going to subside. If it doesn't, I'll go ahead and have the root canal and hope that it does the trick.
I'm not happy about this as my dentists have always said my teeth would probably last me my entire life, but there are worse things in life! If I were to give you any advice based on my experience so far, I would suggest not waiting as long as I did to get your issue resolved. A small crack in a tooth can quite easily become a big crack that is more difficult to treat. Also, I'm not a doctor, but any constant source of inflammation in your body probably isn't doing you any good. Shortly before I got my temporary crown I started to feel that the sensitivity and always favoring one side of my mouth was starting to affect my facial expressions and my stress level.
Good luck -- I hope you end up not needing any of this information. Please let us know how things turn out for you.
The Following User Says Thank You to asdecorazones For This Useful Post: peaceloverescue (07-13-2012)
Thank you asdecorazones. I appreciate your follow up. I am sorry to hear you are still experiencing pain...and hope you get resolution without a root canal if possible...but like you said, there are worse things for sure.
I am just frustrated because, like you, it has been going on for about 2 years. I did go to the dentist back then, and I was referred to an endodontist, who said he saw no reason for me to get a root canal - but said I grind my teeth, and did not encourage a bite guard, but suggested mind over matter - saying "I will not clench my teeth" 10x before going to sleep each night. If you can believe it, it worked for a while...but between me either falling asleep first or forgetting and there being some sort of problem there - it has continued to occur. Sharp shooting pain, only when I eat - when something hits a certain spot...but I cannot clearly identify the exact location. I went back to my Dentist yesterday in hopes he would be able to easily identify the problem...he did x-rays, and pressure tests. Nothing. Eventually he said he saw a very small hairline crack, and he wants to fill it and start from there. The tooth in question has a filling towards the back, so I think he may redo the filling as well. I am just leary of getting any work done when he can't specifically locate the problem...so that I can say..."there"! Based on what I have read it can be very difficult to locate the crack, especially based on what I read from you.
I am going back Monday. Have you ever worn a bite guard? Thank you again. Best of luck to you!
If anything is clear, I guess it's that solving these problems is not easy. In the back of my mind I have this nagging fear that even if I have a root canal first and then have an extraction and get an implant, the pain may never go away. But that would be extremely unlikely. Right??
I guess we just have to place some faith in dentistry and hope for the best. Are you confident that you have a good dentist? Have you thought about getting a second opinion? Two years is a long time to deal with nagging pain. If you're like me, you've mastered the art of eating very carefully!
I got a night guard a while back (well before I had any cracked tooth symptoms) but I haven't worn it consistently. I had a vague sense that it wasn't doing me any good. At first it was surprisingly large. Then I moved and my new dentist said my old dentist hadn't made it properly. He proceeded to cut away a huge amount of material from it and he also made some minor adjustments to make it fit better. I still gave up wearing it after a few weeks. Did your endodontist explain why he or she didn't recommend a night guard? I have been told that clenching and grinding can crack a tooth. My latest dentist has recommended a soft night guard, which I'm pretty sure my last dentist said would be worthless . . .
When my pain started it was hard to tell exactly where it was coming from. My dentist didn't seem to believe that it was the tooth I said it was, but I confirmed it by biting down on the cotton tip of a Q-Tip and there was no doubt about the tooth that was hurting.
Is your tooth sensitive to temperature? Mine was sensitive to cold for a long time. This got worse and eventually heat started to bother it as well, which is not a good sign. Still, nothing shows up in x-rays.