At McLean DDS, we understand that no one wants to lose a tooth, so we do everything we can to help you keep your natural teeth for life. Contact us as soon as possible if you suspect a tooth fracture. We have the specialized knowledge and expertise in various dental procedures that strengthen fracturing teeth and restore their natural functioning and appearance. Our goal is to keep you smiling and chewing for a lifetime!
What Is the Problem?
Fractures, or cracks, are a leading cause of tooth loss in industrialized nations. Back teeth with large fillings can split and alter the shape of natural teeth. Crowned teeth can fracture at the tissue level. Endodontically treated teeth can split and crack. Causes for the increase in this growing problem include:
- Trauma from accidents or sports injuries
- Increased stress that results in tooth clenching and grinding
- Chewing or biting down on hard objects, such as ice cubes, nuts and hard candies
Several methods are used to treat fracturing teeth:
Cracked or chipped teeth can be repaired with bonding. During this procedure, tooth-colored resin material is attached, or “bonded,” to the tooth with adhesives and a high-intensity curing light. Your natural tooth enamel is fused together with the bonding materials to create a strong structure that feels like your original tooth. Because the bonding materials and porcelain are tooth-colored, the finished product closely matches your adjacent teeth. This relatively easy process can be completed in a single visit, and possibly without anesthesia depending on the extent of the fracture.
Inlays and Onlays
Dental inlays and onlays are used to repair rear teeth that are cracked or fractured and have too much damage for a simple filling, but not enough to require a crown. Inlays are similar to fillings and fit inside the cusp tips or top edges of the tooth, while onlays are used for more substantial reconstruction and extend over the cusps of the tooth. Both inlays and onlays require your dentist to remove a portion of the tooth structure, but not as much as is required for a crown, and then take impressions for the lab to make a replicate. While your custom inlay or onlay is being made to exactly fit the cavity, we protect your tooth with a temporary cover. The permanent inlay or onlay is cemented into place over the prepared area of the tooth.
Gold is the preferred material for rear teeth because its flexibility is closer to natural teeth and better able to withstand the pressure of chewing and fracturing than traditional filling materials. Inlays and onlays are very durable and long lasting. They help strengthen the teeth, prolong tooth life and help prevent the need for future dental treatment. We also offer porcelain inlays and onlays for a more esthetic option.
A crown is a tooth-shaped cap that is placed over the tooth to restore it to its normal shape and size, to strengthen a fractured or decayed tooth, or to protect a weak tooth from breaking. We remove some of the tooth structure in order to accommodate the crown. A mold is made from impressions taken of the tooth, and from this mold, a custom crown is created to fit snugly over the damaged tooth. While the permanent crown is being made in the lab, Dr. LeBeau or Dr. Devasia attaches a temporary crown to the tooth to protect it. When cemented into place, the permanent crown fully encases the visible portion of the tooth. It functions just like your natural teeth, allowing you to smile, speak and chew comfortably.
We practice minimally invasive dentistry, meaning that we perform the least amount of dentistry needed to improve each patient’s unique situation. We do not remove more of the tooth structure than is needed to restore teeth to their normal functioning, and we use long-lasting dental materials that reduce the need for future repairs. When we diagnose a fracture, rest assured that we recommend the option that is best for your condition while maintaining as much of your natural tooth as possible. We want you to understand the reasons for our recommendation, so please ask us any questions about your options or why we think a certain procedure is best for you.