One of the most common reasons that patients come to see Dr. Erik Mendelsohn for dental emergencies is cracked or broken teeth. For some reason, this always seems to happen on weekends, when you’re out at dinner, or right after Serenity Smile Designs is closed for a long weekend—go figure. This is avoidable, though, if you act preventively. Here’s the key—and this is one of the reasons we use digital photography so extensively to communicate with our patients—very often these teeth won’t hurt at all until they break. But so often, what we’ll hear is, “Doctor Mendelsohn, it never bothered me at all, and then last night I was eating a sandwich and a big chunk of the tooth just broke off!”
Many dentists still go by the old philosophy of: “If it’s not broken and it doesn’t hurt, leave it alone.” However, this is not the philosophy of Serenity Smile Designs. Dr. Erik Mendelsohn states that the problem with the old philosophy is that when the tooth finally does break, it will take more time, cost more money, and until it’s fixed is often pretty painful than if it had been treated before it broke. If it’s a small crack, you may treat it with a nightguard and a filling. If it’s a big crack, you could treat it with a nightguard and a crown. But if it breaks, you might need a nightguard, root canal, build-up filling, and a crown. And this is all because the small crack wasn’t treated with a filling.
Research tells us that teeth with composite resin (tooth-colored) fillings crack just as often as those with silver fillings. With Dr. Erik Mendelsohn’s experience over 10 years, however, he feels that teeth with LARGE silver fillings crack much more frequently than with composite fillings. But even the bonding process can’t stop a crack from forming if the stress isn’t relieved.
It does seem that some cracks form around old fillings most of the time, but they can even happen in teeth that have never had any work done. All it takes is a lot of force (usually grinding and/or clenching your teeth) and enough time.
Here’s an example: A young man in his late 30’s clenches his teeth so hard that his back molar split completely in half: The tooth never had any previous dental work, and in fact, it didn’t even have a cavity. But he split it so far that it had to be extracted. Dr. Erik Mendelsohn recommended a nightguard in order to prevent this happening to any of the patient’s other teeth!
So what is Dr. Erik Mendelsohn’s main point? Simply this: if you have been told that your tooth is cracked, at the very least, please make sure that you have a nightguard, because clenching and grinding of your teeth is the most common cause. But also—get it treated BEFORE it breaks. It’s less expensive and a lot less uncomfortable that way. And you won’t have to worry about it breaking over that long weekend or holiday when we’re out of the office!
Don’t wait for your tooth to break! Make an appointment today with Dr. Erik Mendelsohn by calling our office at (609) 646-1989.
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