Tooth fillings are typically used to restore the decayed or damaged portion of the tooth. They strengthen the tooth structure and prevent further decay of the natural tooth. Tooth fillings are often designed to last for several years. However, the frequency of changing the tooth filling may depend on the eating habits of the individual.
Cracked tooth fillings are a relatively common dental problem. It usually occurs when the patient bites on hard food. Often such incidents lead to extreme tooth sensitivity and pain. Moreover, cracked tooth fillings can also cause damage to the surrounding tooth structure, gums, and jaw bone. (1) Another cause of cracked tooth filling is the softening of the tooth structure below the restoration. This happens when there is secondary tooth infection under the filling. Commonly, cracked tooth filling occurs in the following cases –
- When there is a large or very olf tooth filling
- Bruxism or teeth grinding
- Unbalanced or uneven bite (2)
- Destructive food habits
It is essential to get treatment for cracked tooth fillings. Failure to do so may lead to bacterial accumulation between the cracks. Furthermore, it will lead to secondary infection of the tooth that may progress to the tooth nerve in severe cases. Severe cases can lead to root canal treatment or even tooth extraction.
What should you expect during a cracked tooth filling?
You cannot fix a cracked tooth filling on your own. Therefore, it is essential to make a dental appointment as soon as possible. Meanwhile, you can do a few things to manage the pain and symptoms of cracked tooth filling –
- Use over-the-counter pain medications that can help to ease the pain
- Clean the tooth using a warm salt water mouth rinse (3)
- If you experience a swelling associated with the tooth using a cold compress
- Some local drug stores offer temporary dental cement to cover the broken filling or tooth
How to prevent it?
You can minimize the risk of a cracked tooth filling by following the things given below –
- Replace older tooth fillings before they break
- Get a full tooth coverage wit dental crown for extensive tooth fillings
- Have your bite professionally adjusted
- Use a nightguard to prevent bruxism
- Avoid hard and chewy food
What is the treatment?
Usually, the dentist examines the tooth and the filling to check the signs of inflammation and tenderness. Radiographic studies can help to determine the extent of damage and the effect of cracked tooth filling on the surrounding dental tissues.
- Usually, when the cracked tooth filling does not damage the surrounding tooth structure or the dental tissues, the dentist may fix it by removing the olf filling. The tooth structure is cleaned, and a new tooth filling is placed to cover the cavity.
- In extensive cases, the dentist may choose between a root canal treatment or tooth extraction. Root canal treatment is performed when the cracked tooth filling has caused exposure of the nerve. Moreover, untreated cracked tooth filling cases often under root canal treatment due to secondary tooth infection. (4)
- In the root canal treatment, the dentist removes the cracked tooth filling. The tooth is drilled to access the canals. Endodontic files are used to clean and disinfect the root canals. Moreover, they are filled with a rubber-like material such as gutta-percha.
If you are experiencing a cracked tooth filling, contact your dentist immediately. Furthermore, follow the steps given above in the article to manage the pain caused by cracked tooth filling.