The strongest tissue in the body is the enamel that covers the tooth. It is rock solid but it is still capable of breaking. I have seen an increase in tooth fracture over the last several months and I wonder if it can be linked to the pandemic.
There are many factors related to tooth fracture.
Stress is my number one.
Jaw clenching and grinding as a result of stress can put unnecessary pressure on the teeth. It could be measured to be more than 100 times the force of normal chewing. Certain teeth that have large fillings may not be able to withstand these heavy forces causing them to break or chip.
Poor posture from working at kitchen tables or in tight spaces at home only adds to the increase risk in grinding habits.
Tooth decay is number 2 on my list
Patients are hesitant to see their dentists during these uncertain times. Tooth decay can be accelerated by stress, poor life style and eating habits. A decayed tooth becomes weak and add the additional forces from grinding can be disaster. Not seeing your dentists for regular dental care will allow tooth decay to progress. This could be avoided if treated early
Tooth fracture can manifest in many forms
Tiny cracks only affecting the outer enamel of the tooth are called craze lines. They are not painful, are shallow, and only affect appearance. No treatment needed but one may consider getting a protective night guard.
A break in the chewing surface of a tooth is a fractured cusp. Generally, this type of crack does not cause much pain or damages the pulp. To protect the cracked tooth treatment will be a filling or crown to avoid further damage to the remaining tooth and filling.
A vertical crack extending from the chewing surface to the root and has not divided the tooth into pieces. Depending on how far the crack extends determines the treatment option. If the crack does not extend far a crown is the solution. A root canal and a crown are ideal if the crack has extended into the pulp (nerve tissue). If the crack has extended beyond the gums, however, an extraction would be needed. Your dentists will help suggest the best treatment options.
If you have experienced any of these tooth related situations please feel free to contact the office. We can discuss what is the best treatment options for you.
Dentistry is not expensive but neglect can be.