You're out at dinner and then suddenly—crack. That's right, your tooth just cracked. One moment you're peacefully chewing away, the next you're wondering if you'll need oral surgery. The obvious first step here is to call the dentist. He schedules an appointment ASAP and you're on your way to finding out if tooth extraction is the fix. Before assuming that your tooth needs to come out, keep in mind that there are different types of cracks. Depending on how and where your tooth is cracked, you may or may not need surgery (in the form of an extraction). Which types of cracks require oral surgery, and which don't?
No surgery needed here. In some cases part of the chewing surface of the tooth breaks off. This is called a fractured cusp, according to the American Association Endodontists (AAE). A cusp fracture can also happen around an existing filling. When this happens your tooth's surface may feel jagged or uneven. Even though you've broken your tooth, this type of fracture typically isn't painful. Instead of removing the entire tooth, it's likely that your dentist can save the tooth with a filling or a crown.
Starting At the Root
This one is likely to require oral surgery. Not all breaks start at the exposed part of the tooth. A vertical root fracture begins under the gum line. These breaks move from the roots up towards the exposed area of the tooth. You may not have much pain at first from a root fracture. That said, it's possible for the injury to cause a bone (in the jaw) or gum infection. In some cases the oral surgeon can save the tooth and just remove the broken piece of the root. If this isn't possible, extraction is required.
Depending on the severity of the split, this issue equals extraction. A cracked tooth left untreated won't heal on its own. Eventually, a crack could lead to a split tooth. This is exactly as it sounds—the tooth splits into pieces. It may be possible for the dental pro to save part of a split tooth, but in most cases the entire tooth must come out.
Starting At the Top
When a crack starts from the top of your tooth it may mean surgery. Or, it may not. Some cracks are treatable with a root canal (to stop the crack from moving downward to your root). If the crack has already spread from the part that you can see to the part that you can't (under the gum line and into the root) oral surgery to remove the tooth is in order.
A cracked tooth can be painful or just plain annoying. But, it doesn't have to make you miserable. A trip to a dental clinic like Valley Oak Dental Group Inc can tell you what treatment is best for your specific situation. Whether it's oral surgery, a crown or something simple (such as a filling), fixing this common issue can stop your symptoms and save your smile.