Why Teeth Fracture

You are having a great meal at a fancy restaurant, enjoying your salad and then bam, you bite on what feels like a little stone. No big deal, you have done this before, until you take another bite….at which point you feel a sharp pain that seems to go through your entire body!

What just happened?

Well, you fractured a tooth right down the middle. The tooth is separated and the nerve is exposed. This however is unknown to most patients and they continue to move along as normal, chewing on the other side. Often patients will put up with this pain for days until calling their dentist. Food, especially chicken, will eventually get trapped between the fractures, further separating the segments and eventually creating more pain.

The tissue around the tooth is very inflamed and food has packed into the fracture.

What is the treatment for a fracture like this? This tooth had to be extracted and we placed a dental implant. See the x-ray below of a similar case.

 This implant will need to integrate with the bone for 3-4 months, at which point we can put a new tooth on top of it. Here is an x-ray of what a few restored implants look like.

Now to the important part – how do we prevent these fractures?

Fractures happen for many reasons, most frequently a tooth has an old Silver Mercury filling, aka Amalgam, that has expanded and contracted for many years while the tooth, being mostly a crystal, has not. This expansion has resulted in many fractures in the tooth and then one single bite on something on the right part of the tooth will fracture that part off.

I have not placed an Amalgam for over 20 years for this and many other reasons! There just are better and healthier options out there.

Prevention of fractures – To prevent fractures, don’t place fillings that tend to fracture teeth. Second, adjust the bite so that the teeth are coming together correctly! If one tooth is taking the brunt of the force then that tooth will also fail first. Third, I am a huge believer in wearing a properly adjusted nightguard/bruxism appliance. Note the emphasis on properly adjusted. All too often do new patients bring in their nightguards from other dentists and they are doing more harm then good. Really frustrating! It is not just an expensive piece of plastic, it is a therapeutic appliance!

Prevention is the key in dentistry. If we wait until the fracture happens then the outcome will certainly be less ideal. For this reason I urge people to seek out preventative and protective options now rather than wait for the catastrophe to happen.

Give us a call if you would like us to check to see how your teeth are doing and prevent future issues. We are here to serve.


Keep smiling.

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