A root canal cracked tooth, though rare, occurs due to the weakening of the tooth, making it more prone to chipping and cracking. Root canal treatment involves the removal of infected pulp inside the root canal, followed by careful cleaning and disinfection, and then filling and sealing.
You rarely experience pain on a cracked root canal tooth; however, a widening crack can become problematic and cause pain. You may experience increased tooth sensitivity, especially when biting down or consuming cold foods and drinks, and bacteria can penetrate the root, causing infection and inflammation. It’s important to take the following steps if you suspect that you have a root canal cracked tooth.
Causes of a Cracked Tooth After Root Canal Treatment
Cracked teeth resulting from a root canal may occur during the procedure or even weeks afterward. Possible causes include:
- Poorly done root canal procedure: The wrong filling material, over-instrumentation, and overfilling can weaken the root structure, leaving it more prone to fracture.
- Accidental trauma to the tooth: Biting down too hard on an object or chewing on hard foods can cause teeth to crack during or after the procedure.
- Tooth grinding: Teeth grinding, or bruxism, puts excessive pressure on the teeth, which can cause them to crack over time. You may need a custom-made mouthguard to protect your tooth from further damage.
- Excessive dental restorations: Too many crowns, fillings, and other restorations can put excess pressure on root canal-treated teeth and lead to fractures.
- Pre-existing root fractures: Tiny fractures can go undetected during root canal treatment and may become more pronounced over time.
Root canal therapy helps save a tooth by removing the diseased pulp and preventing infection. This, however, weakens the root structure, causing it to become brittle and prone to cracking. Understanding the signs of a root canal cracked tooth can help prevent further damage and allow you to seek prompt treatment.
How to Know If You Have a Root Canal Cracked Tooth
The best and most effective way to determine if you have a cracked tooth after a root canal procedure is by visiting your dentist, as the absence of pain can make it difficult to detect a crack at home. A crack on the tooth may be very minute and even invisible to the naked eye.
Your dentist will use various diagnostic tools such as dental X-rays, microscopic examinations, or laser scans to identify cracks or fractures. Be sure to schedule an appointment with your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Pain while biting down on the root canal treated tooth
- Increased sensitivity to very hot, cold, or sweet food and beverages
- A sharp crack you can feel by running your tongue on the tooth
- Persistent pain on the root canal treated tooth
Your dentist will thoroughly examine the tooth to identify existing cracks and fractures, assess whether there was any impact on your gums, and then recommend the best course of action. A widening crack serves as a leeway for bacteria to gain entry and cause an infection that can lead to gum disease, tooth abscess, and a compromised jawbone.
5 Essential Steps You Should Take When You Have a Root Canal Cracked Tooth
Delaying medical attention can lead to further damage and dental complications. Here are five essential steps you should take if you notice any signs of a root canal cracked tooth:
1. Schedule an Appointment with Your Dentist Immediately
A tooth fractured during or after a root canal may not cause you to experience pain or discomfort right away, so even the slightest indication should cause concern and prompt you to seek professional help.
Your dentist has the expertise to diagnose root canal cracks and recommend the best course of action. The dentist might recommend a root canal retreatment, crown restoration, extraction of the tooth, or dental implants.
2. Stay Away from Hard Food and Maintain a Balanced Diet
Avoid hard or crunchy foods such as nuts, hard candy, popcorn kernels, and ice cubes that could aggravate an existing root crack. Biting down on hard objects exert excessive pressure on the teeth, leading to root fractures and further damage.
Stick to soft and easy-to-chew food items such as mashed potatoes, oatmeal, well-cooked vegetables, and soft meats. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean proteins can help keep your teeth healthy and strong.
3. Practice Proper Oral Hygiene
Maintain a strict oral hygiene routine. Brush twice daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste, floss at least once, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and protect the root canal cracked tooth against infection.
Avoid brushing too hard or flossing with excessive force. Stick to gentle and thorough cleaning, paying extra attention to problem teeth. Regularly monitor your mouth for swelling, irritation, and pain, and promptly report to your dentist.
4. Avoid Extreme Temperature Changes
Hot and cold beverages or food can increase cracked tooth sensitivity, leading to pain and discomfort. Exposed root canal dental nerves are more susceptible to extreme temperature changes and can cause heightened sensitivity.
Stick to lukewarm food and drinks and use a straw to avoid direct contact with your root canal cracked tooth. You can also use desensitizing toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate or strontium chloride to reduce sensitivity.
5. Wear a Night Guard or Mouthguard
Teeth grinding during sleep occurs due to anxiety and stress, missing or crooked teeth, or an abnormal bite causing you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth. This exerts excessive force on the tooth, increasing the risk of root fractures and further damage.
A custom-fitted nightguard or mouthguard can protect the tooth by forming a barrier between your upper and lower teeth. Consult your dentist for the best mouthguard for root canal treated teeth.
Seeking early medical attention will help avert further damage and ensure successful root canal treatment. Your dentist can evaluate the tooth, diagnose and treat any root fractures, inspect for signs of infection or gum recession around the root, and recommend the best approach to restore the integrity of your teeth.
Book an Appointment Today and Keep Your Teeth Strong and Healthy
Book an appointment with The Dental Team today if you experience any signs of a cracked tooth from a root canal. We are a team of experienced dental professionals well-versed in root canal treatments and procedures to help you restore your teeth’s strength and integrity.
We will perform a detailed root canal assessment using to check for cracks and fractures that can compromise your oral health. Contact the friendly team at The Dental Team today to book an appointment at any of our convenient locations.