You depend on healthy molars (the very back teeth) for grinding down food and proper digestion. From breaking down nutrients for absorption to savouring your favourite steak, your molars bear the brunt of some of the heaviest biting forces in your mouth. It’s estimated that molars have to withstand as much as 171 pounds per square inch (PSI) when your jaws are clenched together. So if you have a cracked molar, it likely won’t be long before you realize there’s a problem.
Why Does A Molar Crack?
Molars can crack for a variety of reasons. Perhaps your tooth is heavily restored with large, older fillings. As they begin to age and pull away from the tooth, you might simply bite down on something the wrong way and cause a portion of your tooth to crack off.
Another common cause of cracked teeth is untreated tooth decay. Even if you cannot see a cavity, it can be extremely large, just under the outer layer of your enamel. As the decay expands, your tooth becomes weaker until one day you bite down, and large portions of it begin to break off.
Cracked teeth can also be the result of an accident or injury. Perhaps you were involved in some type of athletic activity and get hit in the mouth or fall over. You may not even be able to see the crack in your tooth, but you sure feel the symptoms.
And then there are the teeth that seemingly crack for no obvious reason. These can be the ones that are most difficult to identify. Working with your dentist can give you the reassurance and pain relief that you need.
How Serious Is A Cracked Molar?
Cracked teeth can quickly worsen over a matter of days to weeks, depending on the depth of the crack. Treating it early keeps needs to a minimum. But if you wait days or weeks, a seemingly routine treatment could turn into something more complex.
To reduce your treatment needs — and keep costs at a minimum — it’s essential to address your cracked molar as soon as possible. The timing could mean the difference between a crown, root canal, or even an extraction.
Is A Cracked Molar an Emergency?
Although cracked molars may not feel like an emergency if you’re not in pain, they require urgent treatment. Any cracked tooth has the potential to become an emergency at a moment’s notice. For that reason, it’s essential that you contact our Ottawa dental clinic as soon as you notice the symptoms. We’ll do everything we can to get you scheduled as early as possible.
What to Do While You Wait for Your Appointment
Avoid chewing on your cracked molar at all costs. Be extremely careful while you’re eating, to make sure that food is only chewed on the opposite side of your mouth. One faulty move and biting down into something could cause the tooth to entirely crack to the point where repair is no longer possible.
Try to schedule an appointment as soon as possible, rather than wait for symptoms to develop.
Does A Cracked Molar Hurt?
In most cases, a cracked tooth hurts when you’re releasing biting pressure off of it. So even if it doesn’t hurt when you bite down (it may for some people) you will feel the pain when the tension is released.
Cracked teeth may also be extremely hypersensitive to certain types of foods or drinks. If you feel pain or severe sensitivity coming from a specific area of your mouth, it could be a cracked tooth.
What Happens If A Cracked Tooth Goes Untreated?
Any time you’re dealing with a cracked tooth, it’s like a ticking time bomb. Even if nothing seems to be happening, it’s going to. Untreated cracked teeth will gradually crack even further, ultimately until they reach a point where restoration is impossible.
Although it’s a slightly dated analogy, some of us remember the nylon stockings that were popular in years past. When one got a “run” in them, it would simply work its way further until the run extended down the entire stocking. It’s an almost identical process with an untreated cracked tooth.
How Much Does It Cost to Fix A Cracked Molar?
The cost of repairing a cracked molar will vary, depending on which restoration is necessary. The average price of a crown in Ottawa is approximately $1400, depending on what material it’s made from. If the tooth requires endodontic therapy, there could be additional costs of $1000-2000 or more, depending on how many roots the tooth has. But if you wait and the tooth has to be extracted and then replaced with an implant, the costs can easily triple.
One of the things we do at Parkdale Dental Centre provides you with a detailed estimate of costs and different options so that you know exactly what to expect before booking a treatment.
What Can A Dentist Do for A Broken Molar?
The best treatment for a cracked molar is to cover the tooth with a crown (or “cap”). A crown will fully encompass the underlying tooth and continue holding it together so that it doesn’t crumble apart further. Additionally, crowns distribute the biting force across the restoration so that the weaker tooth underneath can continue biting and chewing normally.
If for any reason the crack extends far enough into the tooth that the nerve tissues are compromised, endodontic therapy will be required. Performing a gentle root canal — followed by a crown — will help you avoid removing the tooth entirely.
All of that being said, if the crack is severe enough that the tooth cannot be restored, removal is the standard of care. At that point, our dentists can discuss whether a dental implant is the best solution for permanent tooth replacement.
In Pain? Call Now
Think you have a cracked molar? Contact Parkdale Dental Centre to reserve an appointment before the fracture gets any worse.