You’re eating dinner, when suddenly a sharp pain shoots through one of your molars. There isn’t any pain when you don’t chew, but every time you bite down on a piece of food – ZAP – right in the same spot. If you’ve experienced sharp, shooting pains or a dull ache when chewing you might be suffering from cracked tooth syndrome, or CTS.
Our teeth are under a lot of stress every day. We chew, we flex our jaw muscles, and a lot of us clench our jaws due to stress or habit. It might not seem like a big deal until the pain begins, and then anxiety shoots through the roof – what could possibly be wrong?
Cracked Tooth Syndrome: What Exactly Is It?
We specialize in diagnosing and treating CTS at our Cincinnati dentist office, and have seen countless patients with pain like yours. The microfractures that are causing you pain are hard to see and nearly impossible to diagnose without proper understanding and training in the specifics of CTS!
CTS is a name for the pain associated with any kind of crack or fracture in a tooth. The damage is often caused by bruxism (clenching the jaw, grinding of the teeth, and gnashing), which is a big reason why it’s so difficult to diagnose.
Most people who suffer from bruxism don’t even know they’re dealing with it because they grind and clench at night while they’re asleep. Unless you share a bed with someone who is a particularly light sleeper there’s a good chance the only signs are a sore jaw in the morning.
Because the pain of CTS is intermittent many people don’t seek treatment for it. They assume it will simply go away over time, but the truth is the opposite: it will just keep getting worse as there’s more and more damage to the cracked tooth.
The Dangers Of Cracked Tooth Syndrome
Aside from the pain, there are serious risks associated with CTS. If you don’t seek treatment you’re endangering the cracked tooth and those around it – you may only have one damaged tooth so far but there’s no reason to believe CTS will stop there!
Over time the cracks caused by CTS can lead to cavities that are particularly dangerous because they get a jump start inside your teeth. Normally cavities have to wear away the surface of a tooth, giving us a chance to diagnose and treat them before they do real damage. When a cavity starts inside a tooth, however, it’s much harder to find it, giving it more time to do damage before we can treat it.
To be clear, the pain you are experiencing due to CTS is not being caused by a cavity. It’s simply a result of the tooth moving due to a fracture and irritating the nerve. Without treatment, however, that occasional pain during meals will turn into constant pain if the root becomes infected by a deep cavity!
How We Deal With Cracked Tooth Syndrome
At Anderson Dental Care we take even the slightest tooth pain incredibly seriously. Our experience with CTS has taught us that a barely noticeable pain can quickly become a serious fracture in a very short period of time.
If you come to our Cincinnati office to have a CTS assessment we’ll perform a number of evaluations, including bite testing, dyes used to make cracks visible, and X-rays to help us see any suspected cracks with better detail.
Once we know that you have a cracked tooth it’s time to decide how to treat it. The most common resolution for cracks that haven’t gone too deep is a dental crown. In some cases where the fracture has reached too deeply or decay has already set in it may be necessary to perform a root canal. By removing any damaged or infected root tissue we can stop the pain while allowing you to keep the tooth safely protected from more damage.
It’s also a good idea to consider a nighttime mouth guard. These soft and comfortable appliances will prevent you from grinding your teeth and prevent the risk of further damage that can lead to CTS.
Don’t Ignore That Pain!
If you have any kind of pain while biting down don’t ignore it! The longer you wait the worse it could get, and the more dire the consequences.
Schedule a cracked tooth syndrome evaluation at Anderson Dental Care by calling (513) 231-7755. You can also request an appointment right here online. We look forward to helping you!