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Dentistry/Cracked tooth -- possible crown


Hello Dr. Backlund,

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,

Hi Joe,

Sorry to hear you are developing a crack in your tooth, but it sounds like your dentist has caught it early...good for you both!

Usually a cracked tooth's symptoms begin with a sensitivity to hot, cold and biting just a certain way. If that is all that happens, usually a root canal is not necessary. It's only when the sensitivity is extreme or you have a full blown toothache that we would do a root canal first. Putting on a crown is always the first step.

Whether you should have a crown now is tougher to answer. It all really depends on the size of the crack and whether you have habits, like grinding your teeth, that may make the crack worse. I would go with your dentist's advice on that one since he/she has examined you and knows your mouth.

Hope this helps.

Gary Backlund DMD, MSD


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Gary Backlund, DMD, MSD


I am an Endodontist ( root canal specialist ) and can answer questions about root canals and their treatment. I cannot diagnose or treat online, but can answer general questions. I have been a specialist for 25 years and am Past President of the Washington State Association of Endodontists.


25 years practicing as a specialist

American Association of Endodonists, Past President Washington State Association of Endodontists.

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