What the Heck is Cracked-Tooth-Syndrome?
Dear Dr. Crapo: In the past two years I’ve had tooth pain like never before. When I was a kid I had a lot of fillings. Of course, they were the black fillings because that’s all they had. Then in about 1984 or 5, my dentist said they were starting to look a bit beat up because I have a hard bite. I asked him if I could get the new white fillings and he said yes. I was on a good plan, so over about two years I had all my back teeth with black fillings changed to white. He told me that the white may not last as long and they took longer to settle in, meaning I could have sensitivity that lasted longer than when the silver fillings were put in. As they were done, I found that sometimes the sensitivity lasted longer and sometimes not. In the past thirty years, I’ve had those original white fillings replaced at least once. Sometimes I had more decay and sometimes they just wore out. However, as I began, in the past two years I’ve had sharp pain so bad I can’t eat, or have anything cold or hot without this stabbing sharp pain driving me away from anything hard and below or above room temperature. I’ve brought this up several times to several different dentists and they’ve said that my teeth look worn, that I grind my teeth and I might need root canals or crowns. That perturbs me a bit to say the least because everything was fine two years ago. So, I saw someone to have a look to confirm what I’ve been experiencing and he did a whole bunch of tests and measurements and took molds. He said I’ve got cracked tooth syndrome – who ever heard of that – and I need many crowns to fix the problem. He said I might have to have front teeth crowned too, as they were badly worn. Am I just falling apart? This is going to be expensive, will it work?
Cracked Tooth Syndrome occurs when the force of the bite exceeds the strength of a tooth or teeth. It happens most often to teeth that are weakened by decay, followed by large fillings. It may happen over time, through normal function or grinding or clenching. Sometimes it occurs when you bite hard on something, giving you an explosion of sharp pain that takes up to a minute to subside and then causes sharp pain to biting and temperature changes thereafter. The treatment generally is to crown the offending tooth. Most of the time, this settles it. In some cases, a root canal is necessary as well. When many posterior teeth are involved, front teeth may need crowning. Well shaped and positioned front teeth, alleviate shear forces on back teeth that cause them to crack.
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