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Dentistry/Cracked Tooth

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Question
Hello Dr. Teig,

On my last check-up (23 Oct), I was told that my bottom left tooth ( I believe it is #18 or #19)  was cracked.  The crack is on the biting surface in one of the crevices.  I do not have any pain.  My dentist told me that if it begins to bother me I will need a crown.  When I asked if that also meant I would need a root canal, she said no.  My question is two-fold:  if it begins to hurt should I have a root canal?  Is it best to get the crown done before I have any problems?

Thank you,
Joe

Answer
Joe-Joe not all teeth that hurt need root canal treatment. A painful tooth can occur if the decay eats through the enamel layer of a tooth and begins to eat into the deeper layer that has nerve tissue that will produce the pain  if irritated.  Unless the decay eats through the underlying dentin layer and into the nerve in the middle of the tooth root canal treatment is usually not necessary. If it hurts and throbs root canal treatment is usually not necessary.  Your dentist might see the decay goes deeper and then root canal might be necessary.

A crown is good, if the decay has structurally weakened the tooth a crown is necessary to prevent the tooth falling apart and decaying more.  So your dentist might see on xray extensive underlying decay thatth.

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Joel S. Teig, DMD, Diplomate ABOMS, retired

Expertise

I am a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon and I am available to answer questions related to tooth extractions, implant insertion, facial recontruction, facial and oral tumor removal, TMJ dysfunction and various successful treatments, including surgery if all else fails, and occlusal discrepancy requiring orthognathic or jaw surgery.

Experience

Board Certified Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon practicine for over 20 years. Assistant Clincal Professor and State University School of Dentistry.

Organizations
American Dental Association, American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons

Education/Credentials
BA -University of Connecticut DMD - University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine

Awards and Honors
National Honor Society (OKU), Philadelphia County Dental Society, Mosby Book Award, Oral Surgery Honors, Summa Cum Laude

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