Candy Diagnosis by Brian P. Midgette, D.D.S.
Okay, so you sneak a couple of bite-sized Snickers bars our of your kid's trick or treat bag as the long-awaited sugar crash takes its toll on your pint-sized vampire. As she lays motionless on the family room carpet amidst a bed of candy wrappers, cheeks and fingers laquered in a coating of sticky sugar and chocolate, you quietly tear open the wrapper and hurriedly pop the morsel into your mouth, trying to make it a quick robbery because you just noticed that in that pumpkin bag, just beneath that Starburst, is a Butterfinger with your name on it. The anticipation of the mixture of sweet chocolate and caramel tempered by the slightly salty peanuts is almost too much to bear. In one firm squeeze, with your eyes closed and a smile across your lips, there it is- nirvana. The caramel coats and sticks to your teeth on the left side of your mouth so you gently maneuver the melty goodness to the right side. You excitedly make that second chew. As your molars mash that peanut, all of a sudden you feel a small jolt of lightning. Upon pulling your teeth apart, there it is again. You know that feeling, only it is much more intense this time. Lately when you chew on that certain spot you have been feeling this same twinge. This time only it is worse. The pain is lasting longer now-this cannot be good.
The next day, as you visit your dentist, he informs you that you have a cracked tooth and that you must put a crown on the tooth as soon as possible. If you do not put a crown on the tooth to hold the tooth together, the chances of needing a root canal go way up. Or worse, the tooth may split to the point where it must be extracted.
We see cracked teeth all day long in our office. People are keeping their teeth longer, have large fillings that make them weaker, and clench and grind their teeth throughout the stressful day-all of these things contributing to cracked tooth syndrome.
The treatment for a cracked tooth usually is to have a crown placed over the tooth. The crown will hold the tooth together, thus eliminating the symptoms-the tooth can last for many years. Unfortunately, if the treatment is delayed, the pain involved worsens and the tooth may not respond favorably to being crowned. In these cases, a root canal may be neccessary (either before or after the crown is placed) to make the pain go away. In the most extreme cases, the tooth may have to be removed.
Do not ignore a tooth that is sensitive when you chew on it. Usually the early symptom of a cracked tooth is simply a twinge of pain when chewing. Pay attention to the pain, try to figure out which tooth it is originating from, and see your dentist quickly to have it checked. Most importantly, treat your teeth kindly-no clenching or grinding, no ice chewing-and your teeth may not develop cracks in the first place.